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Candidate's view: Voting must be made easier for all

Voting is the chief way we influence our leaders, hold people accountable and shape the issues we care about. Whatever your political principles or concerns — whether schools, jobs, roads, taxes or something else — the ballot box is where solutions often begin. The right to vote is fragile, and we’ve got a sacred obligation to protect and defend it.

That’s why I’m running for Minnesota secretary of state. If you’re eligible to vote in Minnesota, I want to make it easier, not harder, for you to cast your ballot.   

My great-grandparents fled to America from Lithuania. Here they found opportunities to thrive. They opened a business in Hill City and started a family in Eveleth. But the most important thing they found was freedom: a vote, a voice, a say in how they were governed. In a nation like ours, fortunate and free, it’s worth remembering how many people fought for, even gave their lives for, the simple right to cast a ballot.  

We Minnesotans expect our secretary of state to champion the rights of voters. I’ve spent the last 10 years in the Legislature putting my heart and soul into voting rights, ballot access, and election reform. As chairman of the House Elections Committee, I wrote the new law that allows “no-excuse” absentee voting so we can all now vote from home for any reason — or no reason at all. I also wrote the law to guarantee online voter registration.

The secretary of state’s office is no place for ideological warriors: A good secretary of state needs the trust and confidence of people across the political spectrum. I’m proud to have built a record of reaching out to Democrats and Republicans alike to find common ground. Every election reform we’ve enacted over the past few years has enjoyed broad bipartisan support.

And there’s more to do: We should enact a true early-voting option, streamline the voter-registration process, sensibly share data, explore new technologies, and reach out to citizens and communities too often overlooked.

This summer marks the 50th anniversary of 1964’s “Freedom Summer,” when three civil-rights workers in Mississippi were brutally murdered for their efforts to register people to vote. We’ve come far since then, of course. But protecting and defending the right to vote remains our sacred obligation. As secretary of state, I’ll work to make voting easier for eligible Minnesotans while upholding the integrity and security of our elections. I respectfully ask for your support.

Rep. Steve Simon of Hopkins, Minn., is one of three DFL candidates for secretary of state in the Aug. 12 primary election.