Project Minnesota's Mission to Empower Minnesotans

Project Minnesota's Mission to Empower Minnesotans
Minnesotans are only just beginning to find their voices.

In 2022 Midwest Seeds published over 90 articles on election process, laws, data, and electronic systems.

Though my journey had begun some months prior, that leg of the journey began in the foyer of the Dakota County Government Center in early 2022 when Rick Weible said it might be good for me to have a look at a complaint filed against Judge Sarah Grewing.

I subsequently published an article with background on that complaint, which related to a sequence of unprecedented changes to Minnesota's election process in 2020, then came back for the next county commissioner meeting in Dakota County. Afterwards, Rick invited me to sit down and in the next hour he shared more about what he'd been up to.

Rick Weible

"Elections are the portal to understanding how well our government is run, and where it is headed." - Rick Weible, owner of and during the Nov 15, 2022 Brookings, SD commissioner meeting

With a background as the 10-year Mayor of St. Bonifacius in Hennepin County as well as involvement in the Minnesota Republican Party, Rick already had an interesting constellation of experiences in and surrounding elections to go along with his overpriced undergraduate political science degree. But perhaps most important was his computer security background. This technical knowledge meant he could read and comprehend software and hardware manuals, study standards, analyze tabulator test decks, piece together voter histories and registrations, and grok the inner workings of devices on the fly: case in point, in 2016 Rick declined the KnowInk Poll Pad contract after hacking into the iPad during the sales pitch.

In Spring 2022, Rick articulated to me the election process, made note of Minnesota's election statutes, and pointed out weak points in the overall electronic voting system, from the absentee process through to the recording and transfer of results.

Elections are the portal to understanding how well our government is run, and where it is headed.

At the time, Rick was effectively supporting multiple emerging grassroots leaders and working double time, driving from South Dakota to show up wherever meetings were being had in Minnesota to educate citizens and their local representatives alongside other powerful voices like Susan Shogren Smith, an expert in Minnesota's election laws.

When Rick said there might be a role for me to provide local government accountability and oversight through written communication and research, a seed was planted, which sprouted throughout the rest of that year.

Surveying the Landscape

I traveled between county commissioner meetings, township board meetings, and city council meetings in about a dozen counties. In the beginning, I documented. While these meetings appeared dull on the surface, I sensed these settings represented the beginning of change in our election process and systems. I didn't realize that what was more important even than basic accountability to a higher standard was the beginning of a healthy dialogue between citizens and their representatives.

Gaining confidence, I eventually contributed to the public record during public comment in an April commissioner meeting in Sherburne County. I had only months prior digitally met the now famous Jeffrey O'Donnell responsible for the Mesa County Report #3, analysis of the server images which proved manipulation of Dominion's Election Management System servers in Mesa County, Colorado. Sherburne County was also on contract with Dominion and therefore vulnerable to a similar exploit.

I closed my three minutes asking the board to consider that they could become the first county in all of Minnesota's 87 counties to move to a safer method of vote tallying, recording, and storage, away from highly vulnerable electronics.

Learning continued through conversations with commissioners before and after meetings. Further sessions were held with auditors and election staff in separate closed door meetings.

I learned how to submit public data requests trying to track down information such as cast vote records.

I learned how to look up court cases. And I was even a petitioner on A22-1081, which went to the Minnesota Supreme Court just before the August 9, 2022 primary election.

Announcement for MN Secretary of State on May 3, 2022

The nearly 100 articles that I wrote and published on Midwest Seeds provided a quick sketch and light documentation of observations and findings and questions. This work was also useful background for the Minnesota Secretary of State campaign which was announced May 3, 2022 from the back of a pickup truck in the parking lot of the Sherburne County Government Center before that day's commissioner meeting.

The campaign's sole purpose was to raise awareness about the lack of election integrity and transparency throughout Minnesota.

The establishment Minnesota Republican party, in the near term, succeeded in preventing me from moving beyond the primary into the general where additional awareness raising might have been done in debates with the likes of current MNSOS, Steve Simon.

But in that 90-day campaign the needle was moved in Minnesota significantly. Over 110,000 votes were cast for a complete unknown who didn't campaign traditionally but who campaigned through joining his fellow man and woman in county commissioner meetings and courthouses throughout the state to learn together and hold our elected officials to a higher standard.

Springfield, MO, August 21, 2022

This local work in the field was augmented by nationwide relationships with some of the most well known names in election integrity and leaders across many states in this great nation in part by participation in The Cyber Symposium in 2021 and The Moment of Truth Summit delivering Minnesota's address in 2022.

2023 and Beyond

As we move into 2023 and beyond, it is time for We the People to reclaim control over our local government. This will be done through responsible, active, and consistent engagement with local officials. This proven method has already led to positive change throughout the country and in particular areas in Minnesota relating to election process and systems.

This engagement will be done at the county level, but also all the way down to the township and city council levels.

This work cannot be limited to areas perceived to be more troubling than others. Perhaps the only way to know for sure that an election process is fair and that the results reported are accurate is to enact stricter standards, most likely involving paper-based systems of registration and paper voting livestreamed at the precinct level, which is then reported to the public before the county or state or media.

Col. Shawn Smith presenting on prioritizing integrity.

This is a nationwide movement and Minnesota has a specific role to play. Within Minnesota, each of the 87 counties has a particular part to contribute. It is therefore a collective movement in the best sense of that word.

We will gather data, share election related information, and investigate potential crimes alongside the county sheriffs. We will coordinate and collaborate between counties to understand the state of election processes in every locality, to share findings and success stories. By prioritizing integrity at the local level, the entire state can be transformed.

What To Do Now

Americans are fast learning what the world already knows, which is that elections are highly vulnerable to subversion. Nation-state vulnerability expert Jeffrey Lenburg has said that next to nuclear weapons, elections are a great option to take over a country—no shot need be fired. In the 1960s the 35th President of the United States also famously spoke of a global monolithic entity which relied "on subversion, instead of elections."

But it is not enough to notice, or worse, to complain about what is now obvious nor to wish that someone else would do something about it. If you are here reading this now, this is your call to adventure.

If you have a voice, I invite you to step into your personal power, to learn how to engage with your public officials locally. If you are a research-minded individual, learn how to submit a public records request, Minnesota's version of the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) process. If you are a communicator, start a Substack or submit guest articles to be posted here. If you are a coordinator, continue to bring people together to get learn and get things done.

Citizens should feel empowered to join hands with their fellow citizens. To learn and grow together. And in doing so inspire courage in their local officials to make the changes they are duty bound to make.

Welcome Home

Project Minnesota is a continuation and elevation of the initial journalistic and reporting efforts of Midwest Seeds, itself a seed planted by a man (Rick Weible) I believe to be among perhaps the dozen most valuable people in the entire election integrity movement.

This website is a resource for all the people of Minnesota.

Not only will Project Minnesota report on election news unlike any existing Minnesota-based outlets, but also it is a friendly place for people to find educational resources shared from county to county, from township to township, from city to city, and local group to local group.

Alongside your neighbors you will make preparations to ensure a fair process and fully auditable result. Only this transparency will lead to what Col. Shawn Smith refers to as warranted confidence in our elections.

Remeber Rick Weible's words:

Elections are the portal to understanding how well our government is run, and where it is headed.

With that in mind, let's make elections so good that our children and grandchildren will be proud not only of our work but also remember that dedication we had to ensure their votes mattered every single time.

In the past year it has become nearly a full time job to learn everything that was learned.

All of these resources are available to you for free, although your support is invited so that I can immediately dedicate greater effort and attention without financial concern.

I also invite you to subscribe to the daily or weekly newsletters and audio updates. If you choose a paid option, consider saving money by choosing the annual payment, which is also a vote of confidence in my work and this mission. Sincerely, thank you.

Paid subscribers will also gain early access to:

Let's make 2023 a year where history is re-written.

Welcome home.

Erik van Mechelen