Republican secretary of state candidate Kim Crockett can’t seem to get her facts straight

By: - September 15, 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.

Kim Crockett, the Republican candidate for Minnesota secretary of state, has made a litany of erroneous statements about election administration during her campaign to be the state’s top election official.

Chief among them: She called the 2020 election “rigged” and is a proud believer in the false assertion that former President Donald Trump won the 2020 election, even though thousands of Republican election judges oversaw the election, and a random group of precincts in every Minnesota county were hand-counted to ensure accuracy. 

Crockett falsely accuses Secretary of State Steve Simon of rigging the 2020 election 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.

Logo for Democracy Day storyPost-election reviews by county administrators found no significant irregularities. Minnesota Republicans picked up a congressional seat, maintained their state Senate majority and picked up state House seats, which means for the election to have been “rigged,” Democrats rigged it against themselves.

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

Michelle Witte, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Minnesota, condemned factually erroneous claims that shake Minnesotans’ confidence in elections: “To me, it’s very irresponsible for anyone to sow doubts without facts,” she said. “When people make claims that truly undermine our confidence in our democracy … you better have the facts to back you up.” 

And a new poll indicates most Minnesotans agree: Public Policy Polling found 53% of Minnesotans support the Jan. 6 insurrection investigation, and 65% of Minnesotans say the investigation is important to protecting democracy.

The poll also found 65% of Minnesotans are concerned about Crockett being an election denier who has asserted the 2020 elections results are illegitimate, and that she’s part of a right-wing network that is recruiting an army of activists to make voting more difficult. 

Although Crockett’s views may be outside the Minnesota mainstream, Republicans are confident in their prospects this November, as voters often turn against the party that controls the White House. 

And, as secretary of state, Crockett could play a big role in the future of Minnesota democracy. The secretary of state oversees statewide elections and operates the statewide voter registration system.

Just months away from potentially taking command of Minnesota election administration, however, Crockett, who didn’t respond to interview requests, doesn’t seem to have a basic understanding of what the secretary of state does. 

In an email to supporters earlier this year, she said the secretary of state counts the votes. That’s false. Counties and cities count votes. 

Max Hailperin, a retired computer scientist who consults on election systems, has been tracking Crockett’s false claims, and said she has incorrectly ascribed numerous duties to the office.

“Anything she doesn’t like, she ascribes to the secretary of state,” Hailperin said. “If you’re running for the office, it would be good to know what they do.”

She told a Senate committee the secretary of state mailed her a ballot, but that’s impossible. Cities and counties mail ballots, not the secretary of state.

Crockett also told a podcast host that military ballots were delivered to the secretary of state’s office. That’s false: They go back to the county that sent them.  She said she wasn’t sure whether military ballots are counted by counties or the state. Ballots aren’t counted by the state.

Hailperin was struck by how many times Crockett said in that interview she didn’t know, was unsure, she’d have to check or “good question” — although at least she admitted uncertainty. 

“It’s a bigger problem when she very confidently states things that are false,” he said.

She touts as credentials years of experience working as an Election Day lawyer for the Republican Party.

“I think if I were the Republican Party, I might ask for my money back,” Hailperin joked.

Crockett has repeatedly said the state’s residency requirement for elections is 20 days in a precinct, which is also false.  

People must live in the state for 20 days before the election, but if they move within the state, they can vote in their new precinct, according to Paul Linnell, deputy state elections director. Linnell said election judges are trained on this point.

Crockett has encouraged thousands of Republicans to volunteer to be election judges this year, but she hasn’t served as one herself, which means she probably knows less about elections than they do, Hailperin said.

Crockett has said postmarks are required on absentee ballot envelopes. That’s false. They’re not.

On another podcast, Crockett said when the state was under Democratic control, absentee balloting was expanded from “a week or two” of early voting to 46 days. That’s false. 

The absentee voting period was changed in 2010, when Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed a law expanding it from 30 to 46 days. That was part of a nationwide initiative by the U.S. Department of Defense, because 30 days was not enough time for ballots to go out and be returned by deployed service members. 

The extension was applied to all people so there would be one set of rules for all voters, according to Cassondra Knudson, press secretary for the Office of Secretary of State.

In the same interview, Crockett said in the 1970s, under Secretary of State Joan Growe, “We got rid of simple, common-sense things like voter ID.” That’s false. 

Minnesota has never required identification to vote.

Crockett has also implied that Minnesota used to require voter registration prior to Election Day, but Hailperin said there was no statewide voter registration requirement until 1973, when a law was passed allowing registration through Election Day. 

“You could just walk into a polling place and say ‘I swear I’m Max and I wanna vote,’” Hailperin said. 

Prior to passage of the 1973 law, some cities required registration, but the law grandfathered in a few rural counties that didn’t require registration for a few more years.

Crockett also frequently complains about “the widespread use of drop boxes in DFL-strongholds” like Minneapolis, as she wrote last year. Not true. Minneapolis election administrator Jeff Narabrook said the city has never had unstaffed ballot drop boxes, but has had staffed dropoff sites.

“She repeatedly talks about the golden age when everyone needed to register in advance, and there never was any such age,” Hailperin said. “The status quo dates to before she was voting. Her golden age thing is striking.”

Crockett has also promoted the election falsehoods of others.  She appeared at a showing of the Dinesh D’Souza documentary “2,000 Mules,” which is filled with debunked conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. 

With the fall election season in full swing, Crockett has continued her 2020 election denialism. She recently told KARE11 reporter John Croman that she has no way of knowing whether former President Donald Trump actually won Minnesota, despite President Joe Biden’s 230,000 vote margin of victory, and the statutorily mandated post-election audit that found no significant irregularities. 

In response, Hailperin tweeted recently that Crockett casts doubt on even the possibility of an accurate election tally. “She denies we have any way of knowing who really won. She denies that elections are our way of knowing. She denies that we conducted an election in any real sense. She denies the election itself, not its outcome. Maybe that’s what people mean by calling her an election denier.” 

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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.