County Board Hears Mail Balloting Proposal
May 1, 2020
by Jeff Olsen
The Roseau County Board approved a LifeCare Public Health Service Contract on Tuesday.
"Counties are required to provide public health, and LifeCare does that for us," said Commissioner Jack Swanson, adding that the board also approved a LifeCare Public Health Jail Service Contract, which provides nursing service at the Roseau County Detention Center.
"This is done to try to reduce the cost of what is called prisoner medical expenses," said Swanson. "When somebody ends up in jail and is on public assistance or Medicaid, that goes away when they hit the jail."
Consequently, those medical costs are borne by the county taxpayers.
The board heard a presentation from Roseau County Auditor Martie Monsrud on mail ballots for the August primary election and the November general election.
"This is potentially for the townships that currently are not doing mail balloting and have actual polling places," said Swanson, adding that the Minnesota Association of County Auditors is lobbying the legislature for this year only because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"By consensus, the board approved the idea, but we didn't vote on it. We may do that next Tuesday."
Commissioner Swanson was asked about certain notable politicians who think mail ballots can be tampered with.
"It's virtually impossible to rig an election in Minnesota. You want to get our auditor mad, suggest it is possible to do that, and she'll tell you there is no way it can be done."
"When I talked to the board this morning, I informed them that I have alerted the township clerks that currently have polling places in Roseau County that mail balloting would be only for this election year due to the coronavirus," she said.
"There is legislation that would allow the Secretary of State's Office to approve the whole state being mail ballot but, as of right now, I have not seen that this legislation will pass. I can't answer that for sure."
Monsrud further noted that she didn't want to rely on the state to do something.
"I want to make sure that Roseau County is prepared if something should happen," she said.
"The statute currently says that any township of any size and any city with less than 400 registered voters as of June 1, have the ability to go mail ballot if they so choose."
The biggest reason, according to Monsrud, is if Roseau County is in an epidemic in August or November, how are these polling places going to handle an influx of people coming in to vote.
"Are they going to have enough space? That's why I talked to the board now to bring them up to speed."
The nine townships and the City of Badger have to decide by Monday, May 11.
"The scenario would be if all of the townships and Badger choose mail balloting, they would have the ability to go to mail ballots," she said.
"This is a statute that allows them to do this one-time thing and then after the 2020 elections are over, they'd go back to their normal polling places. We'll see what happens."