Potential Affect of Absentee Ballots on Legislative Races Still Pending

Minnesota Report

Just as is occurring nationally, here in Minnesota the Absentee Ballot counting has a possible impact on close elections in the legislature. Already in Senate District 14, Aric Putnam (DFL-14, St Cloud) has moved past incumbent Sen Jerry Relph (R-14, St Cloud) by 277 votes. We have listed other races in both the House and Senate where similar impact might occur. This could play a significant role in the Senate, because if Putnam’s margin holds that means the Republicans retain a one vote majority. Now granted not all of the Absentee Ballots will likely arrive and if so the bias does heavily favor the DFL candidates, but it is hard to make up a 1000 vote margin.

Yesterday, Secretary of State Simon (DFL-MN) held a press conference that provided a number of pieces of information stemming from yesterday’s election. Our current turnout figure, which is expected to grow as more Absentee Ballots are received in the forthcoming days, is 3,216,814 from an eligible amount of 4,118,462 people or 78.1%. There are 240,346 Absentee Ballot outstanding which may arrive over the next ten days. These will be segregated, processed and added to the overall vote totals. Simon Press Conference

The Secretary of State’s website lists the number of Absentee Ballots that remain outstanding by County, Senate District and House District. This means the potential for ballots to be received that exceed the number of vote margins in a many of the race results from Tuesday. We will show any changes in these races if they occur over the next few days.

The current results are:

Republican Matt Bliss 11,468 53.38%
Democratic-Farmer-Labor John Persell 9,981 46.46%
+Republican Margin of 1487 votes with 2371 Absentee Ballots outstanding
Republican Robert Farnsworth 10,923 50.05%
Democratic-Farmer-Labor Julie Sandstede 10,876 49.84%
+Republican Margin of 47 votes with 1727 Absentee Ballots outstanding
Republican Susan Akland 11,603 50.16%
Democratic-Farmer-Labor Jeff Brand 11,491 49.67%
+Republican Margin of 112 votes with 2323 Absentee Ballots outstanding
Republican Keith Franke 12,120 51.42%
Democratic-Farmer-Labor Anne Claflin 11,423 48.46%
+Republican Margin of 697 votes with 1126 Absentee Ballots outstanding
Legal Marijuana Now Ryan Martin 1,705 7.40%
Republican Erik Mortensen 10,923 47.42%
Democratic-Farmer-Labor Brad Tabke 10,363 44.99%
+Republican Margin of 560 votes with 1573 Absentee Ballots outstanding
Legal Marijuana Now Jaden Partlo 3,115 7.91%
Republican Jerry Relph 17,966 45.64%
Democratic-Farmer-Labor Aric Putnam 18,243 46.34%
+DFL Margin of 277 votes with 3145 Absentee Ballots outstanding
Republican David H. Senjem 25,001 51.20%
Democratic-Farmer-Labor Sara Flick 23,772 48.69%
+Republican Margin of 1229 votes with 3939 Absentee Ballots outstanding
Republican Carla Nelson 24,728 50.86%
Democratic-Farmer-Labor Aleta Borrud 23,822 48.99%
+Republican Margin of 906 votes with 4217 Absentee Ballots outstanding
Legal Marijuana Now Tyler Becvar 2,552 6.53%
Republican Gene Dornink 19,031 48.70%
Democratic-Farmer-Labor Dan Sparks 17,4 44.69%
+Republican Margin of 1567 votes with 4568 Absentee Ballots outstanding
Republican Warren Limmer 29,331 50.74%
Democratic-Farmer-Labor Bonnie Westlin 28,429 49.18%
+Republican Margin of 902 votes with 3523 Absentee Ballots outstanding

Pot Parties Only Imperil DFLers

Minnesota Report

One factor is clear and DFLers should take notice, as anticipated the Pot Parties only affected DFL candidates even though only the Legal Marijuana Now party fielded any candidates this election. Now, ignorant voices are being raised and calling for Ranked Choice Voting to solve this problem. Problem is RCV comes with its own spate of problems. The only real solution is to forgo the partisan primary process and shift to a California style “Jungle Primary” where all candidates can vie even multiple candidates with the same party label and the two highest vote total winners advance to the General Election.

It is not conspiracy theory to recognize the discussed recruitment of Pot Party candidates by the Republican Party to be a mischievous candidate to help undermine the DFL base vote.

The importance of the party endorsement system will remain intact and it’s likely candidates from the two major political parties, DFL and Republican will emerge, but also in certain areas the inter-party factionalization can be exposed and progressive or conservative candidates can stand against more mainstream representatives of their respective parties and sort themselves out.

Questions for Secretary of State Steve Simon on Elections Day

Minnesota Report

We had the privilege to interview Secretary of State Steve Simon (DFL). Additionally, we will be on a Zoom Press Conference with him at 4:00 pm and report what we learned then as well. Stay tuned keep coming back through out the night to see what more we glean.


C&B: What do you predict the turnout will be in its entirety for the 2020 election?

SoS Simon: I think we have a good shot of breaking the 2008 modern day record of 77%. The next barrier after that would be the crash the 80% threshold, I’m not sure about that. But I’m pretty confident that we’ll do better than last time which was just shy of 75% so

I’m thinking high 70s.

C&B: Okay. do you consider the acceptance of a voter registration card and a request for an absentee ballot to be a contract between the state and a voter contract?

SoS Simon: That’s interesting. I hadn’t thought about that is it a contract. Some might interpreted that way. I’m just, I’m not sure I’d have to think about that a little bit. And it’s certainly an agreement of some kind, whether it’s a formal contract I’m not sure.

C&B: Well, the reason I ask is whether or not you argued that concept from your office or did the Attorney General do so in the eighth District Court ruling.

SoS Simon: Well, that wasn’t so much about voter registration. It was about just the date that stuff can come back So know that there was no argument like that in there because the issue hasn’t been raised yet, it could be raised as opposed mostly to get a post-election litigation.

C&B: And the reason I say that again comes this way as the same as the same day registrations state shooting a registered voter be able to vote by absentee ballot on election day. And if it’s duly postmarked to reflect this wouldn’t then be accepted as a legally cast vote.

SoS Simon: Well, yes under the circumstances of what we agreed to and what the court in Minnesota blast the district court. Yes, they should be able to post market and have it arrive one week later.

C&B: Okay, because the US Constitution leaves elections to be determined by the state isn’t the intercedes of a federal court, a direct overstep to the constitutional provision, meaning the even have jurisdiction?

SoS Simon: They do. And, I mean, the argument in this particular case was that these plaintiffs have standing to sue because they are electors and they are implicated federal elections, because there is a federal election process to elect the president united states that’s how they got in the door of the courthouse was to use that hook. So, I mean there is a role for federal courts, but our view is they should defer to state processes particularly where state courts have blessed certain rules changes

with the, with the ruling by the eighth district panel.

C&B: How will you treat any ballots that arrive after 8 pm.

SoS Simon: Today, we will count every ballot, and every office on every ballot.

C&B: Do you anticipate that any ballots could arrive between 8pm and midnight?

SoS Simon: You know, any I’m not sure. That’s a good question. I don’t know how that would happen. I mean polls close at eight so regardless we’re told to segregate after 8pm so even if they did, they’d be subject to the segregation order. But that’s an interesting question I’m not sure how many if any do, it’s possible.

C&B: With the directive for those votes to be set aside, will you have a separate result for that group. And have that made available to the public or will they be commingled in undistinguished undistinguishable from other votes cast?

They will be commingled all absentee ballots along with all in person ballots along with all same day ballots are always commingled and that will be the same this year. The only difference will be that we’ll have a report based by today’s Tuesday well obviously election night we’ll do a ton of reporting tonight and then at the end of the day, the day tomorrow and Thursday and Friday and so on, we’ll also have a supplemental report, where we’ll say what the report was as of that day it’ll be a rolling total.

C&B: So, then will you segregate the results of these separate balance between the US presidential race and all down ballot races.

SoS Simon: Nope, we will not.

C&B: Okay, once opened won’t those ballots also be subject to possible public information or data requests.

SoS Simon: That I’m not sure about, I don’t know the answer to that, um, you can’t, the same rules would apply. You can’t generally see ballots, unless there’s cause to do so a particular procedure or recount something like that. So, the same rules would apply.

C&B: What are the consequences of disobeying the Eighth district panel?

We don’t intend to disobey, we’re going to do what they said all they said was to do was segregate, and we’re going to segregate the balance. We’re just going to have the way we count them as a running total but you’ll be able to trace which ones, capable we were very clear about what they wanted and we will of course honor that which is going to be segregated but they didn’t say anything about how they’re reported or counted, but we will segregate them you will be able to tell which ones came in after certain time, so then if someone seems to invalidate them you’ll be able to do that so no we’re not going to disobey the court.

We Were Hacked

Minnesota Report

If you have missed us over the last week and a half, its because Checks & Balances was hacked and being used to send out SPAM. It took awhile to address the problem and required us to takedown the site, scrub the information and repost the entirety including our archives.We’re not sure who the perpetrators was, but as we have been hacked in 2005 and became a repository for films with a Russian porn star, Anastassia, this time it was  more generic material and far less sexy. We wouldn’t be surprised if it again were the Russians, because we have not written a single complimentary word about Donald J Trump (R) since his election.

Communication from Secretary of State to County Offices Re: 8th Circuit Clarifications and Recommendations

Minnesota Report

Last night the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office sent out an email to the counties providing more information on the 8th Circuit’s opinion.

Court of Appeals Opinion

Because we are getting a lot of questions about the U.S. Court of Appeals Eighth Circuit’s opinion issued last Thursday, I thought I would clarify the process you should follow.

Bottom line simple answer is the process you put in place prior to the opinion should be used with one major exception: ballots received after the 8 p.m. Election Day deadline need to be segregated.  This means you should finish tabulating the ballots received on or before Nov. 3 first before you tabulate ABs/MBs postmarked on or before November 3, but received through November 10. Once all the ABs received on or before Nov. 3 are tabulated, you must segregate those ballots from the ones received November 4 – November 10.

Obviously it is really important you are date stamping the day the AB was received.

You then will tabulate the November 4 –  November 10 ballots for all races. The court has not ordered anything except the segregation of ballots. And the particular lawsuit involved only the race for President/VP but again, the court did not order that the races on these ballots should not be tabulated.

The exact language from the opinion is: “Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon and his respective agents and all persons acting in concert with each or any of them are ordered to identify, segregate, and otherwise maintain and preserve all absentee ballots received after the deadlines set forth in Minn. Stat. § 203B.08, subd. 3, in a manner that would allow for their respective votes for presidential electors pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 208.04, subd. 1 (in effect for the  President and Vice President of the United States) to be removed from vote totals in the event a final order is entered by a court of competent jurisdiction determining such votes to be invalid or unlawfully counted. The Secretary shall issue guidance to relevant local election officials to comply with the above instruction…”

All votes should be counted, including absentee and mail ballots postmarked on or before November 3 and received before 8 P.M. on November 10. You should not, however, separate the vote totals when updating your reports after your initial report Tuesday night. For example, if you process ballots on Wednesday or Thursday that came in on or before Election Day, as allowed by 2020 legislation, finish those ballots midday Thursday and proceed to then tally the segregated votes discussed at the beginning of this message, you should not report the two groups separately.

DVS Letter

Attached is a letter from the director of the Driver’s and Vehicle Services division about extending the dates for expired DLs.

Good luck tomorrow.

Status of Absentee Ballots (Updated on Election Day)

Minnesota Report

The number of Absentee Ballot requests at the start of Election Day,  is nearly three times the amount in 2016. As expected, the largest amount is coming from Hennepin, Ramsey and Dakota Counties. The seven-county metropolitan area accounts for 1,235,234 or 60.09% of the requests.

This information is gathered from the Secretary of State’s website. https://www.sos.state.mn.us/election-administration-campaigns/data-maps/absentee-data/#

As of 11/02/20

Requested               Accepted

Statewide              2,055,519                 1,716,575              83.51%

Hennepin              585,884                      487.260               83.16%

Ramsey                210,692                      178,677                84.80%

Dakota                  125,979                      73,125               58.05%

  • Applications submitted (11/2/20):
  • Accepted ballots (11/2/20):


Compared to 2016

Requested       Returned         Accepted         Rejected

Statewide                    742,021           689,722           676,722           12,461

Republican Contract To Open Minnesota, Reminiscent of 1994 Contract With America

Minnesota Report

In 1994, US House Minority Leader Newt Gingrich (R-GA) put forward the Contract With America, which opponents labeled as the Contract on America. Today, the Republican Senate Majority led by Sen. Paul Gazelka (R-09, Nisswa) and Republican House Minority led Rep Kurt Daudt (R-31A, Crown) and their respective teams met with reporters on the South Lawn of the State Capitol to present their Contract To Open Minnesotan.

Here are the points they advanced.

Contract To Open Minnesota

We believe in Minnesota, their good judgment and ability to safely live their own lives. Our faith and trust in Minnesotans is at the center of this pledge — our Contract To Open Minnesota.

As we enter the ninth month of this pandemic, Minnesota has sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), the “curve” has been flattened, and the Minnesota healthcare and hospital capacity far exceed the need.

Minnesota Senate and House Republicans pledge to you, that if Minnesota Republicans are re-elected as the leaders of the Minnesota State Senate and elected the new leaders of the Minnesota State House of Representatives, we will enact the following policies described in this Contract To Open Minnesota:

  1. Every Minnesota child deserves a great education, and the right to be in the classroom. Minnesota students are at risk of academic failure, severe mental health issues, and engagement in serious at-risk activities if our schools remain closed. WE WILL safely reopen our schools for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year, while preserving distance learning options for at-risk students and families.
  2. Every Minnesota student has a right to participate in their favorite activities. WE WILL allow all school athletics and activities to safely resume.
  3. Local schools can keep spectators safe at sporting events. WE WILL allow schools to make these decisions on their own and help get parents and fans back in the stands for school sports and activities. Minnesotans have a right to worship in person.
  4. Faith is the cornerstone of life for many Minnesota citizens, and government has no place in telling people when, where, or how they can worship. WE WILL safely allow all houses of worship to open, and trust faith leaders to keep attendees safe.Minnesota restaurants and other venues have a right to be open.
  5. One-size-fits-all restrictions have gone on too long — it’s time for a regional approach that allows local communities to decide how best to combat the epidemic  WE WILL end one-size-fits-all restrictions, and restore decision-making power to the people for bars, restaurants, and other venues.

 We trust Minnesota families, schools, churches, and businesses to be responsible and live safely. Instead of concentrating power in one person or at the state level, we will return it to Minnesotans, and the local leaders they elected.


Who Voted For The Bonding Bill, and Who Did Not

Minnesota Report

If any of the legislator’s who did not vote for the Bonding BIll show up at any of the ribbon cutting ceremonies they should be respectfully asked to leave. Too often, people who don’t vote for something do show up and take the credit for things they didn’t assist in passing. Sounds like Donald J Trump (R).

The list of the No Votes in the House were:

Reps Tony Albright (R-55B, Prior Lake) Assistant Minority Leader, Jeff Backer (R-12A, Browns Valley), Cal Bahr (31B, East Bethel), Brian Daniels (R-24B, Faribault), Kurt Daudt (R-31A, Crown) Minority Leader, Steve Drazkowski (NR-21B, Mazeppa), Sondra Erickson (R-15A, Princeton), Dan Fabian (R-01A, Roseau), Mary Franson, (R-08B, Alexandria), Pat Garofalo (R-58B, Farmington), Steve Green (R-02B, Fosston), Matt Grossell (R-02A, Clearbrook), John Heinrich (R-35A, Anoka), Josh Heintzeman (R-10A, Nisswa) Assistant Minority Leader, Brian Johnson (R-32A, Cambridge), Deb Kiel (R-01B, Crookston), Jon Koznick (R-58A, Lakeville), Eric Lucero (R-30B, Dayton), Dale Lueck (R-10B, Aitkin), Joe McDonald (R-29A, Delano), Shane Mekeland (R-15B, Clear Lake), Tim Miller (NR-17A, Prinsburg), Jeremy Munson (NR-23B, Lake Crystal), Jim Nash (R-47A, Waconia) Assistant Minority Leader, Anne Neu (R-32B, North Branch) Deputy Minority Leader, Paul Novotny (R-30A, Elk River), Tim O’Driscoll (R-13B, Sartell), Marion O’Neill (R-29B, Maple Lake), Duane Quam (R-25A, Byron), Linda Runbeck (R-38A, Circle Pines), Peggy Scott (R-35B, Andover) Assistant Minority Leader, Chris Swedzinski (R-16A, Ghent), Tama Theis (R-14A, St Cloud) and Bob Vogel (R-20A, Elko New Market).

On the Senate side in spite of the protracted debate where senators verbally wring their hands and decrying the lack of adherence to a single subject and expressing their own form of Taxation Without Representation, with their slogan No Choice, No Voice. The bill passed with an equal number of Republicans and DFL voting for the bill. Only three senators ultimately voted against the bill Sens. Bruce Anderson (R-29, Buffalo Township), Michelle Benson (R-31, Ham Lake) Deputy Minority Leader and Mark Johnson (R-01, East Grand Forks).


Guest Submission: Governor Tim Walz

Minnesota Report

Pheasant Hunting: A Tradition Continues in a Time of Uncertainty

By Governor Tim Walz


Like many Minnesotans, I grew up pheasant hunting, walking the fields on my family’s farm. It was, and is, a tradition passed from one generation to the next. Pheasant hunting helped instill in me a lifelong respect for the outdoors.

While time-honored traditions – from the State Fair to fireworks on the Fourth of July – have been upended by COVID-19, pheasant hunting is one thing that has largely stayed the same. COVID-19 hasn’t changed the nature of the sport. In fact, basic gun safety requires social distancing.

Minnesota has a rich history of seizing the seasons no matter the conditions, a tradition that can continue even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Minnesotans can still safely and fully enjoy the three-month pheasant hunting season on our state’s 593,000 acres of public lands in the pheasant range and almost 30,000 Walk-In Access acres.

For Minnesotans, disappearing for a weekend to hunt, fish, or enjoy our state’s natural beauty is a rite of fall. And this year, amid COVID-19, Minnesotans can still find socially distanced solace in the Minnesota pastime that for so long has connected families with the outdoors.

I was looking forward to this year’s annual Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener celebration in Fairmont. However, I was still able to enjoy this year’s opener and our beautiful fall weather near my hometown of Mankato in a small, socially distanced group. As long as we practice social distancing, mask wearing, and staying in small groups, Minnesotans don’t need to be home-bound this winter.

Minnesotans should continue to stay active while preventing the spread of COVID-19. As the leaves change and the weather gets colder, this year’s pheasant hunting season serves as a well-timed outlet for stress. The opportunity to spend time outdoors and enjoy the camaraderie of the hunt with friends and family can improve mental health and provide physical, social, and emotional benefits.

It’s important that we continue to seek out the hobbies and passions that get us outside and into our communities. Not only does it benefit our mental health, but it supports our natural habitats and boosts our economy during a particularly challenging time for Minnesota’s working families.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) estimates that in 2019, more than 52,00 people hunted pheasants in Minnesota alone. By last Friday, the DNR had already sold 50,481 pheasant stamps, up 13 percent from last year. From hunting equipment to travel, hunting energizes local economies and contributes more than 12,400 jobs and $733 million to the state economy.

Minnesota is one of the top pheasant-hunting states in the country. Decades of conservation efforts by Minnesotans made that possible. Each hunt supports our conservation efforts. Funding from hunting licenses provides resources to fight soil erosion, improve water quality, and benefit wildlife species.

Beyond the conservation, commerce, and mental health benefits, pheasant hunting is a valuable part of Minnesota’s cultural heritage. It allows Minnesotans to take advantage of the many opportunities in our state to get outside, while still doing their part to keep their neighbors healthy.

Whether you’re a lifelong hunter or you’re wearing the blaze orange for the first time this year, I hope you have a safe season and successful hunting.

Status of Absentee Ballots (Updated 10/16/2020)

Minnesota Report

During this pandemic, the number of Absentee Ballot requests, which ended on Tuesday, is up over twice the amount in 2016. As expected, the largest mount is coming from Hennepin, Ramsey and Dakota Counties. The seven-county metropolitan area accounts for 1,004,969 or 60.69% of the requests.

This information is gathered from the Secretary of State’s website. https://www.sos.state.mn.us/election-administration-campaigns/data-maps/absentee-data/#

As of 10/16/20

Requested               Accepted

Statewide              1,655,912                 911,385                55.037%

Hennepin              473,779                    277,157                58.85%

Ramsey                174,076                    104,756                60.18%

Dakota                  125,979                      73,125               58.05%


Compared to 2016

Requested       Returned         Accepted         Rejected

Statewide                    742,021           689,722           676,722           12,461

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What the House Looks Like During COVID-19

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Gas Prices Falling Slowly, with Reduced Travel

Minnesota Report The cost of gasoline has not taken as dramatic of a decline as one would think during the COVID-19 pandemic and the Stay-at-Home order. The range in St Paul via Gas Buddy is $1.89-1.57 and with the price of oil floating around $25/barrel one would...

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