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Candidate's View: Pick a secretary free of party persuasion

The secretary of state's office is responsible for overseeing elections in Minnesota and operating the voter-registration system. It is my strong belief the office needs to remain independent of Democratic and Republican politics. In a perfect world, it would be nonpartisan. The referee should be neutral.

There is some dangerous rhetoric being thrown around these days regarding election integrity. Some of it is true, some of it not so much. But regardless of how you may feel about voter fraud or Russian meddling, I believe we can all agree on the following critical point.

There is a push and pull to American democracy, and elections have consequences. Issues such as taxes, immigration, and job creation are the things we are supposed to be able to debate about respectfully in a civilized culture. However, if we get to a place where the citizens don't trust election results, then the whole bedrock of society slides out from underneath us.

I want to bring an independent, nonpartisan voice to the office that would be able to effectively work with leaders of all parties and ensure the maximum integrity of all electoral systems here in the state without any partisan gamesmanship. The duties of this office are too unique and critical to be left to those who carry the water of a major political party.

I believe our American system of government is a revolution of humanity. But even the finest ideas need a tune-up now and again. That is why I support common-sense electoral reforms such as the creation of an independent redistricting commission in Minnesota to mitigate the onslaught of gerrymandering and the expansion of the House of Representatives. We need to create more, and smaller, legislative districts, which will lead to more responsive representation. Our leaders are too far removed from their constituents.

I also support ranked-choice voting for all elections statewide. Ranked-choice voting can make our campaigns far more issue-driven and civil and eliminate the "spoiler" effect for independent and third-party candidates. It levels the playing field.

If elected, I would seek to implement a series of debates sponsored by the Secretary of State's office for all statewide races in the primary and general elections. Too many candidates (from all sides) run away from debates these days, and voters deserve better. You deserve the opportunity to question, compare, and contrast those people who seek to represent you in the halls of government.

My campaign is rooted in the ideals of civil discourse and statesmanship. Personal attacks on our political opponents only handcuff our ability to govern, once elected. And I believe the citizens of Minnesota are hungry for a more respectful state of conversation in the political sphere. The blood sport of American politics has left far too many voters feeling shut out and choosing to disengage from the system altogether. And it's hard to blame them with the constant mudslinging, negative attack ads, extremist partisan viewpoints, and inability to bring about any kind of simple compromise.

We need to change that paradigm of polarization in this state and start recognizing that we are all Americans, we are all Minnesotans, and we all have something to offer. But we will only get there through a civil exploration of each other's ideas and mutual respect.

I humbly ask for your support on Nov. 6.

William Denney of Minneapolis is the Independence Party candidate for Minnesota secretary of state (denney2018.com). He wrote this at the invitation of the News Tribune Opinion page. Election Day is Nov. 6.

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