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definition - Mark_Ritchie

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Mark Ritchie

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Mark Ritchie

Assumed office 
January 2, 2007
Preceded byMary Kiffmeyer
Political partyDemocratic-Farmer-Labor
Spouse(s)Nancy Gaschott

Mark Ritchie (born 1951) was elected to be the 21st Minnesota Secretary of State on November 7, 2006. He is a member of the DFL. Mark Ritchie grew up in Iowa, and he graduated from Iowa State University in 1971. He and his wife, Nancy Gaschott, have lived in Minneapolis for 24 years.

From 1986 until 2006, he served as the president of the Minneapolis-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, a non-profit organization working with businesses, churches, farm organizations, and other civic groups to foster long-term sustainability for Minnesota’s rural communities. Among other issues, it looked into how global trade rules in fact impact family farmers and rural communities. Ritchie also founded the League of Rural Voters.

In 1994, Ritchie was a co-founder of the Global Environment & Trade Study, located at Yale University, which conducted research on the linkages and potential synergies between international trade and the environment. Also that year, Ritchie organized a conference to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Bretton Woods conference. The 1994 conference, held at the Mt. Washington Hotel, featured a return of many of the "old timers" who had attended the 1944 conference or other founding conferences for the postwar economic system.

In 2000 during the presidential election, Ritchie was one of 52 farm and rural activists who formed "Family Farmers’ National Alliance for Nader\LaDuke" to support the presidential campaign of Ralph Nader [3].

In 2004, Ritchie took a leave of absence from the Institute when he was asked to lead National Voice, a national coalition of non-partisan organizations from across the country including church, business, and community organizations. National Voice included over 400 Minnesota organizations that formed the Minnesota Participation Project. The national media campaign, called "NOVEMBER 2," and these organizations helped voters find new ways to get involved in the elections. Their goal was to register and turn out over 5 million new voters nationwide. As part of this work, Ritchie appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Election Night 2004.

Ritchie was asked in 2005 to testify before the Midwest Regional Hearing of the National Commission On The Voting Rights Act about the importance of voting and the challenges minority voters faced in 2004. [1]


Secretary of State

In 2007, Ritchie initially denied knowing how his campaign received a list of e-mail addresses of participants in a state-sponsored program. The list was used to send a citizen an e-mail asking for political contributions. After an investigation by the Legislative Auditor of Minnesota Ritchie admitted that he personally transferred the list, which he obtained in his official capacity, to his campaign.[2][3] State Republican leaders, citing inconsistencies from Ritchie regarding his role in his campaign's improper procurement of the list and its subsequent use for partisan political purposes, called on Ritchie to resign. The incident, they said, betrayed the public trust and raised questions about Ritchie's ability to serve as a non-partisan overseer of state elections -- a primary responsibility of the Secretary of State.[4] The Legislative Auditor later announced that Ritchie had not broken any laws by allowing his campaign to use the e-mail list because it was public data. The Auditor, however, did say that Ritchie "did not fulfill his legal obligation to make a full and timely response to a request for information from the Legislative Auditor," although Ritchie disputed this statement.[5]

2008 election

In Minnesota, the main duty of the secretary of the state is running the state's elections. The elections in 2008 were particularly busy for Ritchie and his staff. [6] The secretary of state's office oversaw Minnesota's November general election in which a record number of votes were cast, a statewide recount in primary race for Minnesota State Supreme Court,[7] recounts in the general elections contest of several state legislative races, as well in the U.S. Senate race.

The 2008 U.S. Senate race initially had a margin of 215 votes separating incumbent Republican Senator Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken, out of almost three million votes cast. [8] The narrow margin in this election mandated a state-wide recount of all ballots. The recount was run by the nonpartisan Minnesota Canvassing Board which was chaired by Ritchie, and included Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Magnuson, Minnesota Supreme Court Justice G. Barry Anderson, Ramsey County District Court Chief Judge Kathleen Gearin, and Assistant Chief Judge Edward Cleary. [9] [10] Some conservative commentators accused Ritchie of bias during the Senate recount, saying the fact that he accepted contributions and an endorsement from ACORN during his 2006 campaign compromised his integrity as secretary of state.[11][12] Most Minnesotans were generally supportive of Ritchie,[13][14] the canvassing board,[15][16] and the way that election and recount were handled, [17] as shown by polls taken at the time[18][19][20][21] and statements from public figures, including Republicans such as Governor Tim Pawlenty and prior Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer.

Election Results

2006 Minnesota Secretary of State [22]
DFLMark Ritchie104943249.09+4.58
RepublicanMary Kiffmeyer94398944.16-3.40
IndependentBruce Kennedy785223.67
IndependenceJoel Spoonheim644893.02-1.77


  1. ^ http://www.votingrightsact.org/homepageimages/highlights.pdf
  2. ^ http://www.startribune.com/10224/story/1516478.html
  3. ^ http://www.startribune.com/10220/story/1564555.html
  4. ^ http://www.startribune.com/10220/story/1566910.html
  5. ^ http://www.auditor.leg.state.mn.us/fad/2008/fad08-01.htm
  6. ^ "Webcast of Minnesota Canvassing Board Meeting". The Uptake. 2008-01-05. http://www.mogulus.com/theuptake/ondemand/pla_114937688214986509?initthumburl=http://mogulus-user-files.s3.amazonaws.com/chtheuptake/2009/01/05/3e5ec580-789a-4635-a39c-313eed934a6a_2207.jpg&playeraspectwidth=4&playeraspectheight=3. Retrieved 2008-01-06. 
  7. ^ "Minnesota Cites Paper Ballots As Factor in Quick Election Recount". VoteTrustUSA. 2008-09-13. http://www.votetrustusa.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2956&Itemid=113. Retrieved 2009-01-05. 
  8. ^ "Election Reporting". http://electionresults.sos.state.mn.us/20081104/ElecRslts.asp?M=S&R=all&P=A&Races=%27%27. Retrieved 2008-11-18. 
  9. ^ Scheck, Tom (2008-11-12). "Key panel named in Minn. Senate recount". Minnesota Public radio. http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/11/12/judges_justices_named_minn_recount/. Retrieved 2008-11-13. 
  10. ^ "Canvassing Board profiles". Minneapolis Star Tribune. 2008-12-13. http://www.startribune.com/politics/national/senate/34372479.html?elr=KArksD:aDyaEP:kD:aUq9_b9b_jEkP:QUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUU. Retrieved 2009-01-05. 
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ Jason Linkins (2008-12-13). "Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty Pushes Back On Voter Fraud Allegations". Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/11/13/minnesota-governor-tim-pa_n_143564.html?show_comment_id=17988958. Retrieved 2009-01-05. 
  14. ^ "Recount judge blasts Wall Street Journal". MinnPost. 2009-01-06. http://www.minnpost.com/braublog/2009/01/06/5639/recount_judge_blasts_wall_street_journal. Retrieved 2009-01-14. 
  15. ^ Patricia Lopez (2009-01-10). "Cutting costs may have had own price". Star tribune. http://www.startribune.com/politics/national/senate/37371114.html?page=1&c=y. Retrieved 2009-01-10. 
  16. ^ Scott W. Johnson (2009-01-07). "Overtime in the Minnesota Senate Election". Power Line. http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2009/01/022489.php. Retrieved 2009-01-07. 
  17. ^ "Pawlenty expresses confidence ahead of recount". Kare11 TV. http://www.kare11.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=529764. Retrieved 2008-01-05. 
  18. ^ Paul Walsh (2009-01-10). "Poll on recount: Coleman should concede". Star tribune. http://www.startribune.com/politics/national/senate/37334654.html?elr=KArksUUUU. Retrieved 2009-01-10. 
  19. ^ "Results of SurveyUSA News Poll #15038". SurveyUSA. 2009-01-08. http://www.surveyusa.com/client/PollReport.aspx?g=35095bbb-29e4-4d71-bc9c-ee2de28b0400. Retrieved 2009-01-14. 
  20. ^ "Results of SurveyUSA News Poll #14981". SurveyUSA. 2008-12-05. http://www.surveyusa.com/client/PollReportEmail.aspx?g=214a21c2-f5f3-4e9e-bffc-d0980f2f81c3. Retrieved 2009-01-14. 
  21. ^ "MN-Sen: Minnesotans Oppose Coleman Lawsuit, Favor Seating Franken". Daily Kos. 2009-01-10. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/1/10/133747/921/913/682505. Retrieved 2009-01-14. 
  22. ^ "OFFICIAL RESULTS GENERAL ELECTION - NOV. 7, 2006". Minnesota Secretary of State. http://electionresults.sos.state.mn.us/20061107/ElecRslts.asp?M=S&Races=0332. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Mary Kiffmeyer
Secretary of State of Minnesota
2007 – Present
Succeeded by


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