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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Why Kiffmeyer should not be re-elected

--posted by Tony Garcia on 11/02/2006

First, Marty interviewed Mary Kiffmeyer for his podcast. In light of the "substance" of the interview and the things that Kiffmeyer’s campaign and her supporters are claiming it is time to put her record together.

Kiffmeyer and her word

Now, last week I sent the following e-mail to the address listed on the Kiffmeyer election website.
Dear Kiffmeyer campaign,
I host a radio show in the St Cloud area on Sundays on 1450 KNSI. My
name is Tony Garcia. I would like to offer Mary Kiffmeyer 10 minutes
this coming Sunday (October 29) from 1:10 to 1:20.

Thank you,
Two hours later I received the following:
Tony. I would be glad to be on. Just need the info etc. Thanks Mary
However, I knew it to be a lie. First, the e-mail came from "James Kiffmeyer" according to the header information. Second, Kiffmeyer's record has been 4 confirmed appearances (all confirmations no futher out than 48 hours) and ONE actual follow-through. Of those four, only the fourth was after any criticism whatsoever by the show. Third, I know Kiffmeyer is unable to defend herself and so she would not show up, especially since her biggest apologist would not be there to protect her from hard questions.

Out of respect I posted the interview being scheduled on this blog, the show's websites and on the station's website. My show prep for the 10 minute segment: nothing for an interview. I was banking that she would not show up and prepared the segment to outline failures from just the past 2 months.

Now Marty was allowed to interview her. In his interview he took some cheap shots at Kiffmeyer's opponents based on absolutely nothing. Among them, comparing their websites to those of alien cover-up conspiracy theorists. This is type of "discourse" has been typical from the partisan hacks of both sides, so it is not new. But I wanted to point out that Kiffmeyer's running away from tough questions is worse than most other candidates...because there are a number legitimate issues that she should be questioned about (and she should be given the chance to offer her side) and there are a number of claims by her directly and by her ads that are in dire need of fact corrections.

Partisanship in the office of Secretary of State

This is obviously a subjective charge. I think the case can more easily be made that many of the rulings from Kiffmeyer have been favorable for her party. It has also been charged that Kiffmeyer broke from the norm by using political appointees for her elections staff rather than civil service. Kiffmeyer's ONLY response is "those are just partisan attacks against me." Without some actual refutation from the embattled incumbent it is more reasonable to believe she does operate the SoS office with partisan advancement as a high priority. Sadly, of all of the non-judicial offices on the ballot THIS is the one that should be the LEAST partisan. Charges of a partisan governor or senator are, well, silly. Charges of a partisan Attorney General should be taken seriously...and the burden of proof to should be on the incumbent to demonstrate non-partisanship while in office. For the Secretary of State this should be even moreso. Charges of partisanship in the SoS office should be taken seriously by voters...and the defense should be more than, 'wa-a-a-h, the attacks are just partisan'. Even if you accept that the charges are partisan it does not automatically mean the charges are false...and a SoS that uses a "two wrongs make a right" arguement are too childish to be returned to office.

Taking credit for voter turnout

"In fact the voter turnout has gone up every year."--from Marty's interview with Kiffmeyer, accessed 11/2/06.

I talked with Marty about his interview before I heard it. He said she did not take credit for rising voter turnout in Minnesota during her reign. Less than an hour later I heard an advertisement on the radio that actually did do that. Then hearing the above quote from Mary's mouth answering Marty's question of 'why should voters re-elect you' I feel compelled to point out the fallacy of her claim.

Nationally voter turn out in Presidential Election years has been as follows 1:
Notice a trend? Rising.

In the Midwest for the same period the results are:

Notice that the change from previous election data shows Minnesota to be following the national trend and following the trend in the Midwest. Notice also that when compared to the other three states compiled in the Midwest figures Minnesota during Kiffmeyer's terms is 3rd out of 4 in cycle-to-cycle comparison.

I know what the partisan talking point response is. "Minnesota has the highest actual turnout rate." Certainly is the case...and has been for long before Kiffmeyer...that Minnesota's citizens are amongst the top in terms of turnout. Kiffmeyer does not deserve credit for this.

"But Minnesota's rank was falling until Kiffmeyer showed up." This is a case of post hoc ergo propter hoc or "Coincidental Correlation". The key ingredients that are missing from this claim of Kiffmeyer's are (1) events since 1998 and (2) demographics of Minnesota.

Jesse. That sparked more interest and as a result higher turnout in Minnesota not only for 1998 but into 2000.

The 2000 election debacle had a significant affect on voter turnout. First, disaffected people began to believe that their vote could count. Second, party hacks became more entrenched and more energized.

9/11 made it a few more people feel that their patriotic duty in voting now also stood as defiance against the terrorists. That carried into the 2002 elections as did the deepening of partisan entrenchment now focused on the War of Terror, the Axis of Evil speech and what to do with Iraq. Hate for and support for Bush drove turnout trends upwards. In Minnesota the newfound energy from 1998 continued and a good portion of it was rooted in vindicating Minnesota internationally to make up for Jesse. This was also the Wellstone-Coleman matchup. If you had to pick just one person to credit for turnout in MN in 2002 it is not Kiffmeyer but your pick of the speakers from the Wellstone rally.

2004 was seen as a referrendum for/against Bush/Iraq. Mobilization nationally continued the upward turnout trend. A sense of needing to re-legitimize or re-establish legitimacy to the elections drove both parties and their supporters as well. The regular mantra of "these elections will shape the US Supreme Court" also helped drive turnout.

None of those could Kiffmeyer legitimately claim any credit over. Nothing Kiffmeyer purported to do to help turnout could be seriously considered to have near the impact as these events.

In 1998 the GOP took over control of the state House for the first time since 1987. Minnesota had become a free-for-all. Third parties were on the rise with one being elected as Governor and two third-parties obtaining major party status. The 2002 election brought the Congressional delegation to a more balanced (3:5) split for the first time since the 1988 election. The 2004 election gave Minnesota an evenly split Congressional delegation for the first time since 1972. Minnesota was considered a battleground state which brings a bump in turnout.

How much of a bump? From 2000 to 2004, 9 battleground states had an aggregate turnout rate of 66.3%, up 8.4 points from the 2000 rate. Among the other 42 states (including DC) the aggregate was up 4.7 points to 58.9%. 2 3

Keep in mind other factors that affect turnout.
Whether the state had Election Day registration had a positive effect on turnout...As the percentage of Hispanics in the county’s population increased, turnout declined. The same was true of African-Americans. The percentage of senior citizens and college graduates in the county and household median income had positive effects on turnout. 4
Minnesota has had Same Day Registration since 1973. (Turnout for Minnesota should be expected to be higher.) Minnesota's population of Hispanics and African-Americans is far below the national average. 5. (Turnout for Minnesota should be expected to be higher.) Median household income in Minnesota is over 13% higher than the national average. 6 (Turnout for Minnesota should be expected to be higher.) The age groups demographics for Minnesota between (18-21 and 65+) had been rising as a percentage of the entire state population between 1990 and 2004. 7 8 9 10 (Turnout for Minnesota should be expected to be higher.)

The mid-term numbers show the same basic trends and have the same factors.

Oops, You mean timely is part of the SoS job
Failure to report clearly report election laws changes in a timely fashion is also an issue. 11 12 13

An issue that is covered in the next section is odd-year reporting...or lack thereof. However a part of that issue falls under Kiffmeyer's failures regarding timeliness. In 2001 general election results were not immediately reported (and a minor note...it seems some precints still have not reported). Why?
This site is presented as a pilot for local elections. Only certain counties are participating in this pilot.
And in 2003...
The Office of the Secretary of State is reporting election results for selected local elections held November 4, 2003 as part of its pilot to advance local election information and results reporting.
OK, 2-4 years so far for the "pilot". And for 2005...well, the pilot must be over. And the result is...? Either the pilot was a success and 2005 should have reported out-state results or the pilot was a failure and the claim "Minnesota is among the first states to pilot real-time election results reporting to the precinct level for cities and school districts" is falacious. Either way it has been a year since the 2005 elections and NOTHING has been reported.

How long ago was the MVST Constitutional Amendment signed? Longer than a few weeks ago. And when were the ballots being finalized for printing? Again, longer than a couple of weeks ago. So why is it that less than three weeks away from the election the Secretary of State, Mary Kiffmeyer, still does not have a workable plan for counting/reporting the results for MVST? 14
Hennepin County elections specialist David Maeda said Kiffmeyer's plan would require someone in his office to manually enter the voter totals for all 426 county precincts. That might happen on election night, he said, if there are no snags. (emphasis added)
For someone being hailed as "competent" this does not sound like evidence of that competence.
Maeda said he suggested that Kiffmeyer's office program its computers to count blank votes, which Hennepin County collects electronically.
Others have ideas for solutions...why not Kiffmeyer?

Kiffmeyer's defense: "accuracy trumps expediency". Timeliness and competency would have had this addressed and solved back in July or August. For an office that claims to be leading the nation in reporting and innovation and technology it is interesting that there is not an ability of the heralded technology to properly count the number of ballots it scanned compared with the number of MVST "yes" votes.

Why should you be re-elected? Because of the "...increased level of service..."

I have described previously the Kiffmeyer Office's trend of providing the absolute minimum service to the state that is required. The event that turned me away from passive supporter of Kiffmeyer to unsupportive of her re-election is her failure to provide the citizens of Minnesota statewide election results last year. Why? As her office said when I called, "We are not required to carry those in odd year elections." What her office instead suggested was that citizens find newspapers or other info gatherers throughout the state to get that information. Why not do that voluntarily to provide a service for the entire state or at least provide links to the varioud localities websites that provide those results? "We are not required by statute to do that." A year later according to the Secretary of State's information the only races in 2005 in Minnesota were:
* Mayor in St. Paul and Maplewood
* City Council in Maplewood, Roseville and White Bear Lake
* School Board Member in Saint Paul School District, Cloquet School District and Saint Paul School District
That is not good service from Kiffmeyer.

Consider this as well...the 2003 results are a bit more comprehensive. So why the DOWNGRADE in service from Kiffmeyer in 2005? Incompetence? Maybe. Not legally forced to do so, therefore she didn't? Very likely. The question has yet to be answered and as of Tuesday time should be up.

Let us not forget the kindergarten-like tantrum Kiffmeyer pitched in her first term. Why? Because she could not get her way from the Legislature. So she shut down her office...making things difficult for business.

Why should you be re-elected? Because I have "...decreased the fees..."

Fees...yep, plenty of them. And she cuts them...after she is criticized for them. 15

Rhetoric and deceit
"when you lay aside all the rhetoric"
Granted, this one is not her doing, but it should be pointed out. 16

Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer appears to be picking up endorsements right and left in her re-election bid: in a single week, she nabbed the nod from the Bemidji Pioneer, the Daily Globe in Worthington, the West Central Tribune in Willmar, and the Duluth News Tribune. And so does her ticketmate, Republican Jeff Johnson, who is running for attorney general: within days, he got noteworthy endorsements from the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the same Willmar and Worthington papers as Kiffmeyer.

But what looks like a Republican groundswell surging across rural Minnesota can be explained more simply: all seven editorials expressed the political preferences of one man, a practice that's more common than you might expect.

William C. Marcil is the president and CEO of a media mini-empire that owns the Fargo-Moorhead Forum, all the newspapers mentioned above, and around 30 other publications--not to mention a half dozen printing houses, three broadcast stations and an internet service provider. But when it comes to political endorsements, the company name, Forum Communications, is a bit of a misnomer: endorsements aren't determined through open debate and discussion by members of a local editorial board; they're decided upon by Marcil in his Fargo office and emailed to papers in Minnesota, the Dakotas, and Wisconsin.

Brad Swenson, editorial page editor of the Bemidji Pioneer, confirmed the policy in an interview yesterday. "Technically, it's part of the job. He owns the paper, he can say who gets endorsed," he says, adding, "Personally, in a lot of those races, I'm not voting that way."
I know that the apologists will have reasons why none of this stuff matters. But they do not have the ability to refute the following: Kiffmeyer does as little as possible; Kiffmeyer engages in partisan politics in her office; Kiffmeyer accomplishments are not what they seem to be; Kiffmeyer's positive actions come mostly as a result of intense criticism, legal requirements or court rulings; Kiffmeyer does little if anything that she is not obligated, required, ordered or mandated.

If THAT is what you Republicans want to be your representative, then so be it. But do not allow yourselves to be fooled that she is doing a good job, or even doing the job voluntarily.

1 Minnesota Voters Turnout, accessed 11/2/06
2"How Exceptional Was Turnout in 2004?" by Scott L. Althaus, accessed 11/2/06
3United States Elections Project, accessed 11/2/06
4”Protecting the franchise, or restricting it? The effects of voter identification requirements on turnout”, Timothy Vercellotti (Rutgers University) and David Anderson (Rutgers University), accessed 11/2/06
5US Census Bureau, accessed 11/2/06
6US Census Bureau, accessed 11/2/06
7US Census Bureau, accessed 11/2/06
8US Census Bureau, accessed 11/2/06
9US Census Bureau, accessed 11/2/06
10US Census Bureau, accessed 11/2/06
11"Kiffmeyer selectively implementing election laws, Ritchie claims", accessed 11/2/06
12"Secretary of State’s Office Found in Violation of Legislation", accessed 11/2/06
13"DFL files complaint against Kiffmeyer", accessed 11/2/06
14"Transportation Amendment Results Could Be Delayed", accessed 11/2/06
15"Why not elect Mark Ritchie to do the job he's already doing?", accessed 11/2/06
16"One man, many votes: On owner-driven endorsements", accessed 11/2/06



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