Keeping the votes safeWORTHINGTON — Earlier this week, Judge Jeffrey Flynn granted a petition of the Nobles County Auditor-Treasurer in response to a request by the Republican party for ballot security.
WORTHINGTON — Earlier this week, Judge Jeffrey Flynn granted a petition of the Nobles County Auditor-Treasurer in response to a request by the Republican party for ballot security.
The order, filed Wednesday in Nobles County District Court, states the ballots cast in Nobles County during the Nov. 2 election shall be secured in terms and conditions spelled out in the document.
Nobles County Auditor-Treasurer Sharon Balster, along with most auditors in Minnesota, received an e-mail representing a written request from the Emmer for Governor campaign to “maintain a constant visual guard over the ballots cast in your jurisdiction relative to the Minnesota gubernatorial race in 2010.” Minnesota statute provides this right to a candidate until the expiration of the time for instituting contests.
“Therefore, we request that your office seal, secure and guard all ballots in your jurisdiction … relative to this election and that these ballots not be released into the custody of, or viewed by, any candidate, campaign representative …,” the Emmer for Governor e-mail states. “Moreover, in the event your office permits any persons to inspect and/or access the ballot(s), please contact us immediately.”
The statute also states if a candidate, contestant or contestee seeks to guard the ballots, the custodian of the ballots shall appoint a suitable person to guard the ballots so they are not in the sole custody of the candidate or their agents.
The Emmer for Governor e-mail requests that the auditor’s office advise them as to the “suitable person” chosen.
“If you do not intend to appoint such a person, please contact us to arrange the appointment of duly authorized agents of our campaign to maintain a continuous, visual guard over the ballots,” the e-mail states.
The order signed by the judge this week, a public document, spells out the location of the ballots, stating they will be kept at the Nobles County Government Center in a locked cell. The keys to the cell, the locked stairway and the security elevator, the document states, will be maintained in the sole possession of Balster and her assistant and not loaned out to any person for any purpose.
No less than two election staff shall enter then room that contains the ballots at any time, and a log documenting time, date and purpose of any election staff entering the room shall be kept at all times.
In accordance with the statute, the order states, no more than two representatives of any Minnesota Governor Campaign may keep visual guard over the ballots at any given time, and keeping visual guard does not mean entry into the ballot storage room. “Visual guard” will only be allowed during the hours when the government center is open to the general public.
Any campaign requesting to maintain a visual guard over the ballots must certify to the auditor a written roster containing the names of the individuals who are to represent the campaign, along with a schedule of when their duties will be performed. The auditor must also be informed in writing of any changes to the roster or schedule. The campaigns are also required to provide proof of notification to other Minnesota Governor Campaigns prior to commencing visual guard over the ballots.
The document states the Nobles County Sheriff’s Office is authorized and directed to take all steps necessary and proper to enforce the provisions of the order.