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Simon, seeking Secretary of State spot, stops in Bemidji

BEMIDJI -- Endorsed DFL candidate for Secretary of State Steve Simon on Wednesday stopped by Bemidji while campaigning ahead of the Aug. 12 primary.

Simon chairs the Minnesota House of Representatives' Elections Committee and on Wednesday touted a new "no-excuses" absentee voting law he chief-authored that takes effect for this year's election. The law removes a requirement that absentee voters swear, under threat of perjury, they will in fact be absent from their regular polling place on election days.

"That is the prize that I worked on for a long time," he said. "It basically means that any one us now can, in a sense, vote from home."

When asked what the impact of allowing no-excuses early voting might have on campaigning, Simon said it will take several election cycles to definitively understand the relationship. However, he predicted the new law wouldn't have much effect on how campaigns are run. He said many of the people who are sure enough in their choice of candidate to vote early wouldn't change that choice based on campaigning in the 46 days before the election during which people can early-vote.

"They know they're voting for Mike McFadden or they know they're voting for Al Franken," Simon said, using the race for U.S. Senate as an example. "Not much is going to change them. So from a campaign standpoint, I'm not sure it'll have a huge impact, at least in the short run."

Simon also highlighted his firm stance against a proposed constitutional amendment in 2012 requiring a photo ID to vote.

"I was very active in the Vote No effort," he said. "That particular proposal would have made Minnesota the harshest and the most restrictive (state) in the nation when it came to ballot access."

Simon is running against Republican Dan Severson.

Zach Kayser
Zach Kayser covers local government and city issues for the Pioneer. He previously worked for the Wadena Pioneer Journal, and is an alumni of the University of Minnesota, Morris. 
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