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Letter: Tangen did a great job with elections for Becker County

Throughout his tenure as the Becker County auditor-treasurer over the past 12 years, one of Ryan Tangen’s most critical responsibilities was managing all local, state and federal elections.

During his tenure, Ryan trained and supervised a large team of election judges and election supervisors, tested voting machines, worked with city, county and state officials on redistricting as required by the 2010 census, supervised two recounts, registered voters, conducted post-election audits following every election, and answered countless questions from voters.

He provided early absentee voting at the courthouse, supervised the printing of unique ballots for every precinct in Becker County, fielded media calls about results and other election issues, and provided voters with a meticulous procedure for securing, transporting, counting and transmitting election results to the Secretary of State’s office.

None of these are small or trivial responsibilities — in fact, they are the basis of our democratic government.

Over the years I was fortunate to observe Ryan’s work on elections on several occasions. Even in the most contentious of environments during the two recounts with a packed courtroom full of attorneys, observers, media and election officials, Ryan was unflappable, treating everyone with respect and disarming everyone with humor.

But, he was also a stickler for protecting every citizen’s ballot and ensuring that every vote was counted. Under Ryan’s leadership, Becker County’s elections were efficient, accessible to all citizens, and accurate. No ballots ever lost, no ballots left uncounted, all election totals balanced and verified.

When Becker County citizens head back to their polling places this November, we can all be assured that the systems Ryan implemented and the people he trained will continue to protect one of our most fundamental constitutional rights.

Ryan’s name won’t be on the ballot and he won’t be at the Courthouse late into the evening, but the elections system he leaves behind is one reason that Minnesota continues to lead the nation in voter turnout and accuracy without fraud.

Ryan served Becker County most ably. We wish him well in his new role with the Detroit Lakes Public School District. — Terry Kalil, rural Detroit Lakes

(Kalil is first vice president and chair of Voter Service for the League of Women Voters Minnesota)