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Ritchie pleased with new election laws

Minnesota’s chief election officer was pleased with the election law changes the 2013 Legislature approved.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie stopped in Brainerd Wednesday on his way to Ruttger’s Bay Lake Lodge, where he addressed the Minnesota Association of County Auditors, Treasurers and Financial Officers.

The major changes, outlined by Ritchie, were:

• All townships are authorized to use the vote by mail process. Formerly it was limited to smaller townships. Ritchie said his office has provided software to help handle the vote by mail process.

• No excuse absentee voting. Early voting may be done and voters no longer have to list an excuse as to why they are voting absentee.

• The threshold that triggers taxpayer-paid recounts was changed from 1/2 percent to 1/4 percent. This change is expected to reduce the number of taxpayer-paid recounts.

• Early processing of absentee votes. Rather than waiting until Election Day election officials may now start processing absentee votes approximately one week before the election. The changes go into effect Monday, July 1.

In his second term, Ritchie announced recently he will not run for re-election in 2014. The secretary of state, who will turn 62 this year, said part of his decision dealt with his desire to make way for a new generation since he would have been close to 70 by the end of another term. While he said he loved his job, he thinks it was the right decision.

“This job is energizing to me,” he said.

He said he has no definite plans for what he’ll do at the conclusion of this term. He has had some involvement with a group that’s interested in attracting a World’s Fair to Minnesota in 2022 and that project interests him.

“It would be fun to have that kind of big vision project,” Ritchie said.

Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
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