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This is what they're afraid of

Why does Keith Ellison want all eligible voters to have their rights? Shouldn't he be hard at work figuring out ways to disenfranchise them?

Why does Keith Ellison want all eligible voters to have their rights? Shouldn't he be hard at work figuring out ways to disenfranchise them? AP

As if there was ever any doubt.

Minnesota has retained its title as the vote-casting champions of America, a fact made official by the certification of the state canvassing board on Tuesday. More than 64 percent of eligible folks filled out ballots, besting runner-up Colorado by more than 1 percent. The percentage is Minnesota's highest midterm turnout in a decade and a half.

Those 2.6-some million voters total an all-time record for midterms, and Minnesota's voter turnout was roughly comparable to the combined populations -- voting age or not -- of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana.

Those three territories get six seats in the United States Senate; things might be better off if Minnesota did, too, though that's beside the point.

Or maybe it is the point. If you're the type to read follow-up-to-the-follow-up blog posts, we don't need to explain how deeply the deck is stacked in favor of conservative interests in this country. That each of those states get two seats in the Senate, and so does California (population 39.6 million, and rising) is a bit of a head-scratcher.

But much as you might hate Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz, the U.S. Senate's not changing any time soon. Neither is the Electoral College.

Gerrymandered districts are routinely drawn to envelope progressive voters in populated areas surrounded by GOP-friendly or toss-up electorates. In many states built around metropolitan areas, a map of congressional and legislative looks a little like a group of rodents and snakes encircling a batch of eggs -- and come to think of it, there are worse metaphors for the situation.

Creative political cartography is an old art, as you might guess when you learn its namesake was called "Elbridge." And Democrats are hardly immune to gerrymandering's seductive powers. Consider a young Barack Obama literally drawing out his "ideal map."

But there is one stark difference between progressives and conservatives. One side wants to make it easy for people to vote, and wants to hear from the greatest possible number of citizens. Progressives believe the more people involved in the process, the better. 

Conservatives, meanwhile, only want their side to vote. That's not fair!

Here's Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon on Tuesday, wasting barely a breath bragging about our top-ranked turnout status... before getting back to the work of enabling people to exercise their rights.

“Though we continue to lead the nation in participation, there is still much more we need to do to make democracy meaningful and accessible for everyone. We can and will do more to encourage participation by young people, communities of color, new Americans, rural communities, military service members, voters with disabilities, and citizens of all kinds who are disillusioned or disgusted with politics. Our freedom depends on it."

Do those eloquent but straightforward sentences scare you? They sure seem to scare those who wish to protect this president, seal him off from not only scrutiny, but criminal investigation.

The idea of more voters is also quite freaky to many of those whose astronomical fortunes (often ill-gotten, through financial tricks or environmental plunder) are, as we speak, vulnerable to the horror of... marginally higher taxes. Like, a couple percentage points. Can you imagine the damage done if the richest people since the pharaohs had to pony up to pay for a poor kid's inhaler? "ANARCHY!," they'd cry.

The reality that more voters tends to deliver a progressive majority in statehouses, houses of congress, and the White House, explains why exactly one major party participates in efforts to make it harder to cast a ballot. It's the Republican Party. They should be ashamed. Few seem to be.

And look what happens when turnout hits an all-time high: DFL U.S. Sens. Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar and Gov.-elect Tim Walz all received more votes in this, a midterm election, than Hillary Clinton did in 2016's presidential disaster. (Those three DFLers candidates also got more support than Donald Trump did here in 2016, and we hope at least one of them mentions this to his ever-purpling face.)

Smith, Klobuchar, and Walz all hugely outperformed the 2014 midterm numbers received by incumbents Al Franken and Mark Dayton, both of whom won reelection handily. 

Dayton got 990,000 votes in that election. If the same number had voted DFL this year, we'd be welcoming Governor Jeff Johnson, who got 1.09 million votes... and who probably has one or two strategists or outside consultants with designs on making it harder for people to vote. Well, certain people. 

Are you among the people Steve Simon named -- again: "young people, communities of color, new Americans, rural communities, military service members, voters with disabilities" -- or do you know one? Do you want them to have the right to vote? Cool. So does everyone who holds a statewide office in Minnesota, including Simon and Attorney General-elect Keith Ellison.

Ellison's villainous opponent Doug Wardlow once told a Republicans-only audience his goal in attaining that office:

"If we win the attorney general’s office, which I can do, we can change the political complexion of the state long-term because the attorney general should be going after election fraud. We should be looking into illegal voting. It should be working with county attorneys to prosecute illegal voting.”

Translation: "I want to make it very hard for people legally eligible to vote to get into the booth without fear of prosecution, plus it'd be swell if we had some new laws or rules that disqualify or confuse or frustrate people who vote for Democrats. Let's put together a list and start crossing them off." Something along those lines, anyway. (Sorry, City Pages cannot accurately channel Doug Wardlow's voice without the use of powerful smelling salts.)

Let us know if you ever hear anything from Keith Ellison aside from: it's a good thing, and people should do it.

It'd be nice if we could get this issue off the table and get back to squabbling over taxes, spending, and education. But for now, a vote for a Republican is a vote against democracy. This will be the case until conservatives cut the shit and stop running scared. 

In 2018, and again in 2020, by voting for a progressive candidate, you are quite literally voting for the right to ... vote. Yours, and other people's. It's a perversely circular reward system, as if drinking a glass of water filled added a gallon to the nearest lake.

Keep sipping, Minnesota. This body of water replenishes itself.