Watchful eyes protect democracy as ballot guarders

Sarah Koller

One-hundredth of one percent. It’s that close. In the past election, 2,885,399 votes were cast for Minnesota nominees for the U.S. Senate race. As of November 10, the Republican Senator Norm Coleman led DFL nominee Al Franken by 206 votes. A November 19 recount is planned, but until then, the ballots will be locked away in the state’s 87 counties. With the error margin so narrow, both the Coleman and Franken campaigns have stepped up to ensure the protection of the ballots through the use of “ballot guarders.”

The job of ballot guarding is exactly as sounds. Former BSM staff member Sharon Shaffer recently guarded the ballots at St. Louis Park City Hall. She said, “I simply sat in a chair at City Hall from noon to four-thirty and made sure no one entered the unauthorized room.” This simple task actually has a big significance for many Minnesotan voters.
While sitting in the company of a metal box for several hours doesn’t seem too appealing, dozens of Minnesotans are volunteering for their own reasons. ” I know Norm Coleman and the good person he is and would be to Minnesota. I’m dedicated to him and have helped in his campaign. I want to do my part to help with his election,” said Shaffer.
Another ballot guarder, Minnetonka resident Gina Musech, who also worked for the Norm Coleman campaign, has her own motives. “I believe it’s my civic responsibility to ensure the safety of the votes,” she said.
Currently, there has been no report of any ballot security problems. Yet, with some boxes being simply locked away in the 87 City Hall basements or attics across the state, “taking these precautions is important to make sure the system is fair,” said Musech. The result of the Minnesota Senate race is crucial since it assists in determining the balance in the U.S. Senate. Although the Coleman campaign initiated the idea of ballot guarders, the Franken campaign has shown its public approval.