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Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie Misrepresents Minnesota Election Law

11:24 PM, Nov 23, 2008 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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During an interview with Minnesota secretary of state Mark Ritchie on Wednesday afternoon, I asked him what protections are in place to prevent ballot tampering in the Coleman-Franken Senate race. "All ballots are in the control of election officials. All ballots are carried with two election judges of different parties," he said. "The state law is clear. These [ballots] are under lock and key. Ballots moved with election judges of both parties."

In fact, Ritchie's statement that Minnesota law requires ballots to move with two election judges of both parties is incorrect. Later in the day on Wednesday, I spoke with Matt Stevens, an election judge from St. Paul. Stevens, a 30 year-old musician in the reggae band New Primitives and a self-described political independent, told me that he alone moved the ballots from his St. Paul precinct to the county office. Stevens didn't do anything illegal. Minnesota law states: "One or more of the election judges in each precinct shall" transport ballots (emphasis mine).

There is no evidence that vote tampering has occurred, but it's noteworthy that Ritchie--who will take part in a crucial decision this week regarding whether or not rejected absentee ballots may be included in the final vote count--apparently does not understand Minnesota election law.