President Donald Trump, in what can be seen only as an attempt to undermine the results of the election, has now repeatedly urged voters to "vote twice."
He is framing it, slyly, as a way for voters to test the system by first voting absentee, then showing up to vote in person. His claim? If the system is working, one ballot will be rejected.
But that's just a ruse. The true goal here is to introduce a level of chaos that would bring election systems across the country crashing down, allowing Trump to question the legitimacy of the results. To do so during a pandemic, when many are wary of standing in line on Election Day for fear of COVID transmission, is reprehensible.
Asked by an editorial writer about the effect of any such attempt in Minnesota, Secretary of State Steve Simon was blunt: "Knowingly or intentionally voting twice in an election is a felony," he said. "Those who do so will be discovered, prosecuted and convicted."
Much in a democracy relies on the good faith of those involved. The peaceful transfer of power that has marked this nation since its inception rests primarily on the principle that candidates will accept and voluntarily abide by election results.
Trump has regularly attempted to undermine voters' faith in the election system, unaccompanied by any proof. From his election in 2016, when he claimed he had lost the popular vote because of fraud, Trump has continued to wage baseless accusations.
He was at it again on earlier last week. During a rally in North Carolina, he urged supporters to become poll watchers because Democrats could not be trusted. "Watch all the thieving and stealing and robbing they do," he said. Regrettably, the outcome of such self-appointed poll watchers could well be voter intimidation and even confrontation.
The Republican shibboleth of voter fraud deserves to be put to rest once and for all. No less a figure than Ben Ginsberg, the GOP's go-to election lawyer for more than 30 years, said in a recent opinion piece that Republican claims of widespread voter fraud are simply "unsustainable."
Ginsberg, who represented former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman in one of the closest election contests in Senate history against Democratic challenger Al Franken, said he has searched for voting violations in every election since 1984. His conclusion? "There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud." Continuing to call elections "fraudulent" or results "rigged" with almost nonexistent evidence, he said, "is antithetical to being the 'rule of law' party."
Minnesota has taken appropriate precautions for the November election. Those who apply for absentee ballots must submit personally identifying information, Simon said. That same information must be present in the submitted ballot. Voters are given a unique bar code, he said, which is what will make it easy to find those who foolishly attempt to test the system.
Minnesota is on course to an unprecedented number of absentee ballots, Simon said, with more than 800,000 applications received by Labor Day. At that rate, he said, as much as a third of the electorate may wind up voting absentee either by mail or by dropping off a ballot in person during early voting, which starts Sept. 18. Minnesotans should take heart that their voting system is sound and prepared. They can help by requesting ballots early, voting early and, above all, demonstrating a bit of patience.
The Legislature voted to give election officials a 14-day head start on processing — though not tallying — absentee ballots, which will help speed results. The final outcome may not be known on election night, but that's not a sign of mischief. It means your vote is being counted.