Mankato Free Press, Mankato, Oct. 11

Voting by mail is secure

An in-depth report by CNHI News Service in the Free Press destroys several unfounded myths about absentee voting and makes the case that the voting is safe, secure and both Democrats and Republican candidates will benefit from it.

Data collected for the report shows the enormous increase in absentee voting in battleground states that many experts believe will decide the presidential election. In Minnesota alone, some 1.5 million absentee ballots have been ordered and 635,000 have already been returned with 23 days to go before the election. Those figures far surpass any comparable year.

County election experts in Minnesota expect nearly half of all votes to be cast by absentee/mail-in. And it makes sense to so many people. Lines for primary voting in Georgia and Wisconsin earlier this year had people waiting for hours, and risking exposure to COVID-19. Casting a ballot by mail is easy and safe.

President Donald Trump has told people to avoid using absentee ballot and voting by mail as there would be fraud. Those claims are baseless and, as one expert said in our report, are designed to scare people from voting by absentee.

Data in the report also shows absentee voting was popular among Democrats and Republicans. In fact, the Georgia Republican Party has been canvassing neighbors giving people applications to sign up for mail-in voting.

Minnesota has a particularly strong and secure absentee/mail-in voting system. Should voters make a mistake filling out the ballot certification areas, county officials will contact them to correct it. People can even change their mind if they’ve already voted provided they let the election officials know they want to revote within the time frame required.

With so many absentee ballots being cast, it’s likely those ballots will be pivotal in who wins the election. And even if the vote-counting takes longer, we can be confident the winner will be justly elected. Voter turnout will likely be an all-time high this year. And that’s good news for democracy.

Absentee/mail-in voting is safe, secure and allows people to exercise their right to vote in a safe and secure way and participate in American democracy.


Star Tribune, Minneapolis, Oct. 9

Biden is the right choice for America

This nation is weighing one of the most consequential elections in modern history. America needs a leader who can reunite a fractured country; who can restore our standing among allies and position of leadership on the world stage; who can reinfuse a battered federal government with purpose, ethics and expertise.

The Star Tribune Editorial Board believes Democratic nominee Joe Biden has the character, experience, purpose and vision to so lead this nation as its next president.

We recognize that Minnesota is as politically divided right now as the nation, and we know not everyone will agree. We respect those with different views. But we ask that they consider the alternative.

At every juncture where President Donald Trump could have brought this country together, he has sought to tear it apart. The ongoing lack of a federal strategy to deal with COVID-19, the mistrust he has cultivated about scientific evidence, his blatant politicization of masks and social distancing, all have crippled the nation’s ability to meet this crisis head-on.

Early on in the pandemic Trump deliberately turned states against one another, in a Hunger Games-style scramble for needed resources, creating needless havoc. Even now, having contracted the disease, he continues to downplay its severity, jeopardizing those around him and turning the White House itself into a hot spot.

But it’s not just his handling of COVID. Trump is attempting even now to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, whose protections millions of Americans have come to depend on. Yet in four years he has never produced a plan to replace it.

He has rejected and denigrated science and American institutions at every turn. He has openly attacked the integrity of the election and actively works to undermine it. His coded appeals to white nationalists have emboldened them while deepening racial tensions.

Trump also has saddled this country with a crippling level of debt, resulting from tax cuts that primarily benefited those who least needed the help. He gets credit for a needed reset on runaway globalization, but his go-it-alone approach vis-a-vis China has proved ineffective and his trade war, with its retaliatory tariffs, has shredded our relationships with allies and hurt some of Minnesota’s top companies.

The world has lost precious years in the fight to mitigate climate change, and here too Trump has been a denialist even as the evidence of such change rages all around us.

Biden’s record of service is a testament to the enduring power of relationships, listening, and the search for common ground. His empathy, positivity, belief in American values and in the best of humanity will be a welcome balm to a nation nearly sundered by polarization. His ability to reach out to the other side is evidenced by a phenomenon without precedent: prominent Republicans who have stepped forward to support his bid.

That’s in part because Biden is a moderate, despite Trump’s slanderous efforts to characterize him as some wild-eyed radical socialist. His plan for the economy would restore a needed emphasis on the middle class. Trump’s own alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, analyzed Biden’s plan and concluded it would lead to faster economic growth, higher wages for American workers and a reduced debt. The former vice president would move to refine and improve the ACA, just as this country has done with every other major piece of legislation over its history. He would bring competence and expertise back to federal agencies hollowed out by the grifters and bunglers Trump installed.

Biden recognizes climate change for the priority it is, and would marshal resources and return science to the White House. His polices are tempered by a focus on what’s possible. On climate change, the goal is well within reach: achieve a carbon-neutral nation by 2050 and rejoin the Paris accord.

On the economy, we have in Biden someone who helped steer the nation out of the Great Recession, who was a driving force in building the most durable recovery in modern history. He doesn’t shy away from tough decisions nor engage in wishful thinking.

He would roll back the Trump tax cuts on those making more than $400,000. Minnesotans know that approach works because it was a tax increase on the highest wage earners that put this state’s budget back in the black and rebuilt the very reserves the state now is depending on to see it through the current crisis.

America cannot endure another four years of division, chaos, corruption, norm-breaking, rule-breaking, hatred toward immigrants, and lies and incompetence. Biden, along with the well-qualified vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris, represents a chance to return to cherished American ideals, to call out the best in all of us, and to resume this country’s leadership role in the world as a stabilizing force.


St. Cloud Times, St. Cloud, Oct. 9

Supporting communities key in pandemic

It was almost precisely two months ago that Central Minnesota school leaders were making decisions about how they would attempt to reopen schools for the first time since March.

At that time, we called on our community to conjure up its best intentions and responses for what we — and let’s be honest, everyone who was paying attention — predicted would be a rocky ride.

The bumps of the fall 2020 school session have suddenly turned into pavement-buckling, route-altering boulders this week. New COVID case numbers showed Stearns County hasn’t been able to contain the outbreak at levels that would allow St. Cloud public schools to keep operating under a hybrid plan of in-person and remote classes for 6th-12th graders.

St. Cloud is far from alone. School districts in almost every corner of the state have had to make similar adjustments.But remember, none of this was expected. While everyone involved — school leaders, public health officials and government leaders — hoped schools could operate safely with significant in-person class time for all students, scenarios were in place for responding if outbreaks worsened.

Now, they have. And responses to the changes that are coming are complicated by the confusion inherent in a path strewn with unknowns and contradictions: Many colleges aren’t doing sports, but high schools are? That other area’s cases aren’t rising as much as ours — why? Kids and young people don’t generally get very ill from COVID-19, but some of them die? What’s worse for kids, illness or isolation? Where’s the balance point between public health and the economy? How many lives will be lost or altered long-term before we can bask in the bliss of normalcy again?

That confusion and frustration — and you better believe almost everyone you meet is feeling, whether they show it or not — feeds anxiety. The reality of the school year’s upheaval does so as well, with thousands of families now having to rebuild their daily routines.

And there’s certainly some anger.

But, ultimately, we can’t rage or debate or bargain our way out of a pandemic, much as we might like to.

So now, as we opined two months ago, the time has arrived to come together as a community that takes the actions and makes the gestures that show we’re all in this together.

It’s time to ensure that all the things we did to support students, teachers, school staff, families and employers back in March are still happening. Is there wifi where kids need it? Is there child care to help cover for parents? Help for employers who are trying to be flexible for their workers while also making sure the job gets done? Do teachers have involved parents who are invested in solving problems?

And is every community member doing their part to help stop this?