Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-St. Louis Park, doesn't need many reminders that voting is important to the nation's democracy. The incoming chair of the House Elections Committee helped shape Minnesota election law after the 2008 U.S. Senate recount. He also watched as the 2010 governor's contest ended up close enough for a recount.
But Simon has something else to look to. It's a Palm Beach County, FL election booth from 2000 sitting across from his desk in the State Office Building.
"It's just a cool artifact of American history," Simon said referring to the presidential contest between George W. Bush and Al Gore.
Simon says some friends found the election stand (which folds up into a brief case) on eBay a few years ago and bought it for him for his birthday. The stand is now a part of his office.
"When I opened it up when I first got it, a bunch of chads flew out," Simon said. "I collected the ones that I could and put them in a little plastic bag and those are, I suppose, formerly hanging chads."
He said it also includes a sample butterfly ballot that confused some voters in 2000.
(For those who need reminding, Palm Beach County was considered the epicenter of the recount between Bush and Gore. )
"It's a reminder to me that elections matter," Simon said. "The stakes are high and we ought to think about that."
Simon and his assistant have to box up the booth and prepare to move it over the next few days. With Democrats taking control of the House and Senate, Simon is moving offices. His assistant joked that she's going to be careful not to lose any chads in the transition.
Side note: Rep. Simon has become a father for the first time. He announced on Twitter that his wife gave birth to a baby girl this morning.
I'm a father! This morning, Leia and I welcomed Hannah Marlen Simon. A real blessing.— Steve Simon (@RepSteveSimon) December 10, 2012