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Study: Minnesota Ready To Count Votes

October 22, 2008

St. Paul, MN – Minnesota does a good job of counting votes. That's the conclusion of a 50-state study of voting procedures by Common Cause. Executive director Mike Dean says the review measures how states respond to election-day problems, such as long lines or broken machines; with a record turnout expected, his organization is concerned there could be problems on November 4.

"Unfortunately, in recent years, we've seen a lot of voting system failures across the country. Machines that won't start, memory cards that can't read information, mis-tallied votes, even lost votes, and more."

Minnesota was one of only six states that received a good rating, and the data showed most aren't ready to handle potential problems. Dean says the goal is to alert election officials in those states, so they can take steps to insure everyone eligible to vote has the opportunity to do so, and that all votes are counted.

The study found that Minnesota needs improvement in providing enough ballots at polling places, and Dean says the current law allows county clerks to decide how many go to each location.

"The number of ballots should actually be based upon the number of people that are registered. We've seen places running out of ballots, often because county clerks are under-predicting turnout."

Dean explains running out of ballots can threaten the integrity of the process and believes that while Minnesota’s election system does well by comparison, it could still stand improvement.

"We're going to go to legislators and discuss the importance of a paper trail of the records, and of post-election audits throughout the state."

The report is available online at

Jim Wishner/Steve Powers, Public News Service - MN