St. Paul Pioneer Press - Sat, Nov. 04, 2006
For secretary of state, Ritchie
As the nation has grappled with hanging chads and the reliability of electronic voting machines, Mary Kiffmeyer has kept Minnesota out of the crosshairs of controversy — indeed, Minnesota is a model for other states — maintaining and building upon many of the fair elections standards championed by two exemplary predecessors, Arlen Erdahl and Joan Growe. As Minnesota's secretary of state since 1998, Kiffmeyer has seen Minnesota through a leap in technological advancements, leading her office through an entirely new computing system and building a comprehensive Web site from scratch.
But we find Mark Ritchie best qualified and energized to not only build on the office's successes but meet new challenges and expand its role. He brings an impressive track record of nonprofit accomplishment, and we like his ideas for preserving the integrity of the office and developing the office into a branch of civic engagement. We support Ritchie for Minnesota's next secretary of state.
Ritchie has started three active nonprofits with progressive missions — the Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy, the League of Rural Voters and National Voice — two of them directly related to voter engagement and turnout. Kiffmeyer's office has produced brochures for specific community segments, and Minnesota is already among the top states for voter turnout, but Ritchie shows more creativity and ambition in attracting more voters, important qualities as Minnesota's immigrant community grows.
We will hold Ritchie accountable to his promise to run his office as a "nonpartisan" — a big challenge for anyone affiliated with a political party.
He's already addressing that with his commitment to hire professional public servants for his staff rather than party operatives and by advocating instant-runoff voting, which opens the electoral process to candidates outside the major parties. Whether instant runoff is the way to go or not, the idea of expanding participation in electoral processes is crucial.
Two challengers, the Independence Party's Joel Spoonheim and independent candidate Bruce Kennedy, line up nearly identically with Ritchie in terms of philosophy, but neither has the persuasive experience of either Kiffmeyer or Ritchie.