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Steve Simon accepts DFL endorsement for Minnesota Secretary of State

Simon and his wife, Leia, both delivered emotional speeches following the endorsement.

 Minnesota DFL State Convention
Secretary of State Steve Simon kisses his daughter, Hannah, alongside his wife Leia Christoffer Simon, after being endorsed during the Minnesota DFL State Convention Saturday, May 21, 2022, at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, Minn.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — In a very emotional and personal speech, Steve Simon accepted the DFL’s endorsement for Secretary of State at the Mayo Civic Center on Saturday, May 21, 2022.

Simon is known to say that he’s “in the democracy business,” and he explained to the delegates why defending the freedom to vote is so personal to him.
When his grandfather was 19 and living in Lithuania, he fled to the U.S., away from discrimination and persecution. The year before he fled, Jews in the Russian empire lost the right to vote. Simon choked up and continued, “Things got much worse.”

“Over 90% of Jews there were eventually murdered in the Holocaust,” he said.

This is why Simon said he has done and will do “everything in my power to always protect the freedom to vote.”

Simon’s wife, Leia, gave a speech of her own before introducing her husband. She said that preserving democracy is important to both her and Simon for numerous reasons, but the top one is their children.

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The couple’s son, Noah, is on the autism spectrum and is nonverbal. Leia said the family may never see him vote if not for “empathetic officials” there to advocate for him.

She discussed the “fair, safe and secure” election system and added that “it’s administered by people who are honest,” referring to attacks aimed at election judges and polling workers following the 2020 election.

In his speech, Simon added that those who were the targets of the election attacks are “your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers.”

 Minnesota DFL State Convention
Secretary of State Steve Simon is endorsed during the Minnesota DFL State Convention Saturday, May 21, 2022, at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, Minnesota.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

He addressed what he calls disinformation spread by the Republican party around election integrity, saying that if delegates believe that disinformation, or what he called “a polite way of saying lies,” is actually to improve election integrity, “I’ve got a pillow factory to sell to you.”

Simon praised the 30,000 Minnesotans who “put their health on the line” to work at election polling stations in 2020, which marked the third year in a row that Minnesota ranked first in the country in voter turnout.

He also highlighted the law he introduced and passed as a state representative to allow any eligible voter to vote from home, the law that “gave freedom to so many people,” including his father, and “saved the 2020 election.”

Simon said “we need to do better” related to breaking barriers facing voters from indigenous and low-income communities.

To that end, Simon described actions that the state should take to make elections more available to voters, like upgrading to automatic voter registration, giving 16- and 17-year-olds the option to pre-register to vote, and restoring voting rights to “those who have left prison behind.”

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“We can improve and protect the democracy that drew my grandfather to the U.S.,” he said.

Abby Sharpe joined the Post Bulletin in February 2022 after graduating from Arizona State University with a sports journalism degree. While at ASU, she created short- and long-form stories for audio and digital. Readers can reach Abby at 507-285-7723 or asharpe@postbulletin.com.
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