Kim Crockett, a leading candidate in Minnesota’s upcoming Republican secretary of state primary, questioned two years ago whether non-English speakers and people with disabilities should be allowed to vote in the state.
Crockett, who has repeatedly questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 election, won the Minnesota Republican Party’s endorsement at its May convention. In Tuesday’s primary, she is likely to become the last candidate who spread the ‘big lie’ (a claim that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump) to become a Republican candidate for Secretary of State.
While discussing a Minnesota Supreme Court ruling that confirmed a state law allowing people with disabilities or difficulty reading English to request assistance filling out their ballots, Crockett raised the question of whether people from these groups should be allowed to vote .
“So the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that indeed you can help an unlimited number of people to vote if they are disabled or can’t read or speak English, which begs the question, should they vote ?” she said during the September 2020 radio interview, which took place less than a week after the ruling. “We can talk about it another time.
Ahead of the 2020 election, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, two campaign arms of the National Party, challenged a Minnesota law that allowed anyone to assist up to three voters who have a disability or difficulty reading English to complete and deliver a ballot. Democrats argued that the three-person limit violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Republicans have claimed that allowing one person to help an unlimited number of voters would allow “ballot harvesting” — a term the GOP uses to oppose laws that allow voters to return ballots on behalf of other voters – and would encourage fraud.
The best course in Minnesota partially confirmed a lower court ruling in the case, removing the limit on the number of people one person could help fill out a ballot. But it maintained a limit on the number of mail-in ballots a person could return.
Crockett argued in an email that his comments were taken out of context and do not imply that people who need help voting should not be able to vote.
“You seem to be implying a judgment about the competence of all vulnerable voters and I’ve never made that judgment,” she said. “Individuals should be supported by someone they know who understands their abilities and does not influence them.”
She also said the limits were meant to prevent “political operatives or others with ill motives” from taking advantage of voters who need help, and said she witnessed these events while she worked as an election lawyer.
“The reason the state legislature wanted to limit the number of people who could help is because they were concerned that vulnerable voters would be taken advantage of and that political operatives, or others with ill-motivated people, would help an unlimited number of people by influencing their votes with their own preferences,” Crockett said. “As an Election Day lawyer, I have witnessed, time and time again, vulnerable ‘assisted’ voters not knowing how to fill out their ballot, who is on it or even what it is for; their assistant tells them what to do and then moves on to the next voter.
Crockett did not provide proof of that claim and did not immediately respond to a follow-up email asking her to clarify what she meant when she raised the question, “should they vote?”
Crockett has previously made racist and xenophobic remarks about immigrants: In 2019, while working at a right-wing think tank, she threatened to sue Minnesota over a resettlement program that brought Somali refugees to the State.
“I think of America, the great assimilator, as a rubber band, but with that – we’re at the breaking point,” Crockett said, according to the New York Times. “These are not people from Norway, let’s put it that way. These people are very visible.
At the May state GOP convention, Crockett also broadcast an antisemitic video which portrays Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon (D), who is Jewish, as a puppet of George Sorosthe Jewish billionaire who contributes to many liberal campaigns, organizations and causes.
Republicans have long opposed measures that make it easier for people to help other voters fill out ballots. GOP candidates have sometimes suggested the party is making it much harder for non-English speakers to vote.
In 2018, for example, a GOP candidate for secretary of state in Arizona said the state should stop printing ballots in spanish and other languages that are not English. Meanwhile, many of the new voting restriction laws that Republican state legislatures have passed in the past two years contain provisions that make it more difficult for people with disabilities and immigrant communities to vote.
Crockett also relentlessly spread lies about the 2020 election, alleging without proof that it was “rigged” against Trump and that President Joe Biden’s victory was “illegitimate.” On Tuesday, she will probably join Nevada’s Jim MarchantMichigan’s Kristina Karamo and Arizona’s Mark Finchem as prominent election deniers who won GOP nominations in swing Secretary of State primaries from state primaries. She will enter the general elections as an outsider against Simon, in office since 2014.
Ken Martin, president of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labour Party, said Crockett’s remarks were “shameful” and “deserve our strongest condemnation”.
“Even in today’s hardline Republican Party, I have never seen a candidate question whether people who don’t speak English or people with disabilities should be allowed to vote,” Martin said in a statement. “Crockett has previously attacked or denigrated Jews, Minnesotans who don’t speak English, immigrants, and people with disabilities. Why on earth would anyone trust him to oversee our elections and defend our freedom to vote?