DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — State Rep. Steve Simon won the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party’s endorsement on Saturday for secretary of state, an office that has played a key role in some close recent elections.

Simon was declared the winner by acclamation in the only competitive race at the party’s state convention after state Rep. Debra Hilstrom conceded.

Former state Rep. Dan Severson, of Sauk Rapids, has the GOP endorsement. The winner of the November election will replace Democrat Mark Ritchie, who’s retiring as the state’s chief election officer and oversaw the recounts in 2008 and 2010 that gave narrow victories to Sen. Al Franken and Gov. Mark Dayton, respectively.

Simon, of St. Louis Park, touted his work to defeat a constitutional amendment two years ago that would have required Minnesota voters to present identification at the polls. He noted that some Republicans are again promoting voter ID proposals. Republicans say they’re meant to prevent voter fraud, but Democrats say the real intention is to suppress turnout.

“They can keep trying to put up these fences but we Democrats are going to keep tearing them down,” Simon said.

Hilstrom, of Brooklyn Center, called for restoring voting rights to people convicted of felonies after they’ve served their sentences. She told the delegates the prohibition disenfranchises 50,000 Minnesotans, and the party needs all the votes it can get.

“When you win elections by 312 votes, you cannot afford to have 50,000 Minnesotans sitting on the sidelines,” she said, referring to Franken’s margin.

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