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Secretary of State inquires about Morris voting site change

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon sent a letter about the recent change to remove a polling site from the University of Minnesota Morris campus.

Simon said in a copy of the May 2 letter shared with media by Morris City Manager Blaine Hill that "Ultimately, it is up to local communities to decide for themselves where to site polling places." Simon said while it's not within his authority to mandate polling places on college campuses, "I do encourage them as a best practice to get good civic habits started early."

Simon said he hoped the city would encourage UMM students to register and vote in August and November, regardless of what final decision the council made on the polling sites.

Hill said at the May 8 council meeting that he and Stevens County Auditor/Treasurer Amanda Barsness had a phone conversation with Simon and provided the state official with more information about the change in polling sites. The council recently reduced the city's six polling sites to three.

Simon was contacted by UMM students about the change in polling sites, Hill said.

"There isn't an issue with what we did. (Simon) said he hoped like it didn't sound like he was telling us something different that we needed to do," Hill said.

Several UMM students and staff members spokeat the April 24 council meet and at a prior council meeting to share concerns about the loss of the polling site on campu and to urge the council to restore the campus polling site.

On April 24, the majority of council members indicated they did not want to return a polling site to the UMM campus.