Minnesota GOP endorses election denier to oversee elections

Republicans endorsed Kim Crockett, who called the 2020 election rigged

By: - May 25, 2022 6:00 am

Attorney Kim Crockett was endorsed for secretary of state at the state Republican convention in Rochester. Photo by Deena Winter/Minnesota Reformer.

Voting rights advocates are alarmed by Minnesota Republicans’ endorsed candidate for secretary of state Kim Crockett, who has called the 2020 election “rigged.” 

She played a video at the state Republican convention with the theme “Sending out an SOS” that portrayed the election system in crisis and controlled by a Jewish puppet master, George Soros, with the caption, “Let’s wreck elec­tions forever and ever.”

Crockett recently appeared at a showing of the Dinesh D’Souza documentary called “2,000 Mules,” which is filled with debunked conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. 

In short, Crockett is a proud believer in what has come to be known as “The Big Lie,” the false assertion that former President Donald Trump won the election both here and nationally. 

Of particular concern for voting rights advocates: As secretary of state, Crockett could play an outsized role in the future of Minnesota democracy. Although the secretary of state does not “count the votes” — despite what Crockett erroneously told supporters in an email — the secretary of state oversees statewide elections and operates the statewide voter registration system.

​​Michelle Witte, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Minnesota, said Minnesota city and county associations agree the state’s election systems are fair and accurate, and a 2018 legislative audit of voter registration found minimal errors.

“To me, it’s very irresponsible for anyone to sow doubts without facts,” Witte said. “When people make claims that truly undermine our confidence in our democracy … you better have the facts to back you up.” 

Crockett, who has not returned repeated texts and calls and has given few interviews of late, told Republican delegates that she’s been called by God to run. “My campaign has been filled with the holy spirit since day one,” she said. 

Crockett wants more restrictions on voting by mail and wants to make it harder to vote by shortening the early voting period, pushing in-person voting over mailed ballots and requiring people to show identification to vote. Her campaign sent supporters an email saying Republicans need to overcome a “margin of fraud” in the upcoming election.

With her party’s endorsement, Crockett is likely to face Secretary of State Steve Simon, a second-term Democrat, in November.

During the state Republican convention, Crockett accused Simon of using the pandemic to change how Minnesotans vote, and saying it’s time to “root out” a “partisan election process he’s built.”

Crockett said Minnesota should “return to voting in person” and reject the “insecure, chaotic absentee balloting system and vulnerable wireless equipment connected to the internet.” 

Yet she has voted by absentee ballot in every state general election since the introduction of no-excuse absentee voting.

Crockett is part of the Conservative Partnership Institute’s “election integrity network,” which is led by Cleta Mitchell, who played a key role in trying to help former President Donald Trump flip the Georgia election results. The incident is being investigated by a special grand jury in Fulton County.

Normally low-profile secretary of state races around the country have attracted more attention and money than usual in the wake of Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. Republican Trumpists are seeking to install loyalists in key election positions, particularly in battleground states where President Joe Biden narrowly beat him.

The election watchdog Brennan Center is tracking fundraising in what it considers battleground races this year, and Minnesota is one of them. The center recently released a report noting that fundrais­ing in Minnesota’s secret­ary of state contests through March surpassed $650,000, the highest since at least 2010. Simon has raised about $520,000 of that — more than all the candid­ates put together at this point in each of the last three cycles and far more than the $90,000 raised by Crockett. 

Simon has called the 2020 election “funda­ment­ally fair, accur­ate, honest, and secure.”

The Brennan Center is keeping tabs on candidates who claim the 2020 election results were illegitimate, as well as those who threaten not to certify results or call for baseless “full forensic audits.” 

Crockett checks many of those boxes: She has accused Simon of rigging the system when he agreed to a judicially approved consent decree after a voting rights group sued the state to expand mail balloting for safe voting during the pandemic.

Crockett was legal policy advisor for the Minnesota Voters Alliance, which calls itself an election integrity watchdog that seeks to “increase voter participation,” but has taken legal action against Simon and counties over election administration.

Crockett has handed out campaign literature at events where the speakers claim the 2020 election was stolen, even though Minnesota Republicans picked up a congressional seat, maintained their state Senate majority and picked up state House seats. 

She hailed one of these conspiracy theorists, Rick Weible, as a “voter data hero.” For more than a year, the former St. Bonifacius mayor has been posting “Midwest SwampWatch” YouTube videos laying out election fraud claims based on faulty assumptions.

According to her LinkedIn page, Crockett worked as a consultant for the American Majority Election Integrity Project, a conservative group that trains people on things like “how the Big Rig happened in 2020.”

She’s also pushing an “Eyes on Every Ballot” initiative and is recruiting election judges “with the help of patriot groups,” in the hope that if more Republicans watch elections, more Republicans will win. 

The Brennan Center also noted GOP’s endorsed candidate for governor Scott Jensen said the “election process was bastardized” and said that Simon should go to jail for the way he ran the last election. 

This mistaken belief that the 2020 election was rigged against the GOP runs up against overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The 2020 Minnesota election included thousands of Republican election judges and a random group of precincts in every county were hand tallied to ensure accuracy. Post-election reviews by county administrators found no significant irregularities.

Crockett says her plan to recruit more GOP election judges has been thwarted by Hennepin and Ramsey counties because they are requiring their employees to get COVID-19 vaccinations: “We can’t let Steve Simon and county bureaucrats block citizen election judges, from any political party, from serving in these critical roles designed to keep our elections honest.”

She attributes Republicans’ recent success in Virginia to getting more Republican observers into precincts, saying she has a “Virginia plan for Minnesota,” though there’s a more conventional and likely explanation for Republicans’ success in Virginia: The party that controls the White House in off-year elections often does poorly, and Republicans received more votes, especially in rural areas where Republicans are strongest. 

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Deena Winter
Deena Winter

Deena Winter has covered local and state government in four states over the past three decades, with stints at the Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota, as a correspondent for the Denver Post, city hall reporter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and regional editor for Southwest News in the western Minneapolis suburbs.