Is the FBI investigating voting fraud in Minneapolis?

Signs point to “yes.”

Deena Winter of the MN Reformer appears to have been the first to report the news of an active Federal investigation into the 2023 municipal elections in Minneapolis.

Winter reports that two confidential sources say that the FBI is looking into aspects of last year’s campaign for city council. She writes,

One person who has been interviewed by the FBI civil rights division multiple times—and was asked by the FBI not to talk to reporters—said the agents are investigating the [DFL] endorsing process but also asked about election fraud.

Winter adds,

Another person who was interviewed by the FBI said he was asked about delegate fraud, too, specifically in Ward 6, and any possible fraud in the recent November election.

Dave Orrick of the Minneapolis Star Tribune appears to have interviewed those same two sources and filed his own report.

Both Orrick and Winter catalog the “chicanery” around recent contests for the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) party endorsement, DFL party primaries, and general elections.

They mention the 2023 city council contests for Minneapolis in Wards 5, 6, and 10. Winter notes that in May 2022, the Feds did secure a conviction for perjury involving absentee voter fraud in a DFL primary election for a Minneapolis state senate seat held in August 2020.

Who knows what, if anything, will come of this latest Federal inquiry.

For my part, I’ve done my own digging into irregularities in Minneapolis election results, focusing on the primary and general elections held in 2018, 2020, and 2022.

The November 2020 election is of particular interest. Minnesota boasted the top turnout in the nation that year at a whopping 80 percent, way ahead of its rivals. Minneapolis topped even that, with a voter turnout in 2020 of 81.3 percent. To average 81.3% citywide, some areas came in higher, some lower.

A few wealthy enclaves in southwest Minneapolis boasted voter turnout above 90 percent in November 2020. But other areas with high turnout may surprise you, based on their very different demographics.

Turnout for the August 2020 primary election in Minneapolis revealed greater surprises. Citywide, turnout came in at just under half (49.1 percent), more than triple the August 2016 primary turnout of 15.5 percent. (2012 primary turnout was 10.9 percent). In the space of a few years, Minneapolitans have become some of the most patriotic, civic-minded people in America.

Some areas that produced above-average primary election turnout of more than half their voters (sometimes two-thirds) were neighborhoods that are considered to be much poorer and more diverse than average, defying the expectations of political scientists.

In August 2016, 93 percent of Minneapolis primary voters cast ballots in person, with 4 percent voting by mail.

In the Covid-era election of August 2020, 38 percent cast ballots in person, with 60 percent voting by mail. From 2016 to 2020, voting in person grew by 53 percent. Voting by mail increased by 5,727 percent (not a typo). Consider this: just the mail-in ballots in August 2020 were more than double the total turnout in August 2016.

In August 2020, the highest rate of absentee balloting could be found in the city’s Ward 6 (see above). The Minneapolis precinct with the higher share of absentee voting could be found in Ward 6’s 3rd precinct (covering the Cedar-Riverside area), where more than 82 percent of voters chose this method to cast their ballots.

In August 2018, Ward 6 also led in absentee balloting, with an absentee turnout more than triple the city average. In August 2022, Ward 6 again led in absentee balloting, but by a smaller margin.

Fast forward to the city’s general election of 2023 (with ranked-choice voting, there is no primary election). Ward 6, 3rd precinct again led Minneapolis in absentee ballots, with nearly 79 percent of the precinct’s voters choosing this method, versus the citywide average of 17 percent. The silver and bronze medals for absentee voting also went to precincts in Ward 6.

The absentee voters of Ward 6, Precinct 3 are a fickle lot. Precinct 3 citizens led the city in the use of absentee balloting in the primary elections of 2014, 2016, and 2020. Precinct 3 finished a strong 2nd to Ward 6, Precinct 5 in 2018.

But the citizens of Precinct 3 largely sat out the primary election of 2022, casting a paltry 54 absentee votes in that election, at a rate below the citywide average. Only one other precinct in the city produced a lower overall turnout in that primary election. Relatively low turnout persisted in the November 2022 general election, with Precinct 3 turnout falling below Ward 6 and citywide averages.

Thankfully, the voters of Precinct 3 ended their apparent boycott in last year’s city election, roaring back to crush the Ward 6 and citywide turnout averages. This single city precinct logged more absentee ballots (1,117) in 2023 than most of the city’s entire wards could muster.

I’m expecting huge turnout from Precinct 3 in the crucial elections of 2024.

Over the past two years, I’ve been looking into these and other statistical anomalies in Minneapolis election results, applying tools such as Benford’s law.

I’ll keep looking.