Kiffmeyer playing politics

Instead, Minnesota’s secretary of state, must work to increase political participation.

Minnesota Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer has been a lightning rod for criticism over the last few months. Some have called her the Katherine Harris of the North. Others would go so far as to call her a political hack. Normally, secretaries of state manage to avoid criticism. In this case, however, much more criticism is needed.

One of the central job duties of the secretary of state is that of chief elections officer, whose purpose is to make the electoral process more accessible. From her recent actions over the last months, it appears Kiffmeyer has forgotten those duties.

First and foremost, Kiffmeyer has planted doubt into the voting process. She has clashed with local election officials over the implementation of a new voter-registration computer system. Rather than incorporating the system in January, when potential bugs could be worked out, she rushed the system into action. This was imprudent, considering a heated and widely scrutinized election will be held in only a matter of weeks.

She has also worked to frighten voters on an individual level by asking elections officials to post McCarthy-like “look out for terrorists” posters at voting precincts. Clearly, terrorism warnings are for the Department of Homeland Security, not the Office of the Secretary of State.

What Kiffmeyer has not done is work to facilitate the voting process. Instead of trying to include as many people as possible into the electoral process, Kiffmeyer has worked to exclude. For example, she has supported making same-day registration tougher.

To top this all off, last week Kiffmeyer moved to strike every Independence Party member from the November ballot in a clear attempt to shut down a strong third party in Minnesota.

Minnesota has had a proud civic tradition. Its election participation is among the highest in the nation. Minnesota does not need or deserve a secretary of state who prioritizes her political party interests over the voters’.

In the past, this board has praised other Kiffmeyer programs, such as recruiting college students to be election judges. We hope she will return to being a nonpartisan facilitator of democracy, rather than injecting cynicism, fear and doubt into the ballot.