Tracking votes

Systematic voter fraud alleged in Minnesota Supreme Court case

A new voter fraud case before the Minnesota Supreme Court claims 1,366 ineligible felons have cast at least 1,670 fraudulent votes in recent statewide elections, possibly tipping the outcome of close contests, including the 2008 U.S. Senate race.

The case holds repercussions for the 2016 election, with the plaintiffs seeking a court order to prevent state and local election officials from distributing ballots to ineligible voters by implementing new safeguards.

The lawsuit marks the culmination of a years-long effort to challenge suspected voter fraud tied to Minnesota’s sameday voting registration law. In general election years like 2016, more than half a million Minnesotans register to vote on Election Day.

“For the first time, the State of Minnesota will be put ‘on the stand’ and forced to explain why it thinks it can violate the plain text of the Minnesota Constitution, election statutes, as well as specific court orders and permit individuals to vote who election officials know are ineligible,” said Minnesota Voters Alliance (MVA) Executive Director Andy Cilek in an email newsletter.

The MVA alleges the actual number of illegal ballots submitted by ineligible voters far surpasses the 1,670 votes documented through a painstaking search of voting records, hampered by a lack of cooperation by Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon. MVA found 941 ineligible felons who were allowed to vote in 2008 alone, exceeding the 312 vote margin separating DFL candidate Al Franken and GOP Sen. Norm Coleman.

Altogether, more than 100,000 Minnesota felons had their right to vote restricted and reported to the Minnesota Secretary of State between 2003 and 2015. But the Minnesota Secretary of State only notifies local election officials of the ineligible status of felons and others if they’re already registered to vote in the Statewide Voter Registration System.

Court papers demonstrate how the incomplete list of ineligible voters provided to local election officials routinely allows felons, wards of the state, immigrants and other ineligible persons to register and vote.

“The 1,366 identified felons who have been permitted to vote is believed to be only a fraction of the true total,” the110-page court petition filed by MVA and former Rep. Kirk Stensrud states. “Cooperation from the Secretary of State would have allowed for a more complete accounting of the number of ineligible persons who have been permitted to vote.”

Simon has refused to release the data that would enable MVA to verify the actual number of ineligible people who have illegally cast a vote, ignoring a Minnesota Department of Administration opinion stating the voting records are public information.

“The Secretary of State plays a significant role with other election officials in permitting known ineligible felons to register or to vote,” court documents state.

The lawsuit also alleges that election officials often allow felons flagged as ineligible in the Statewide Voter Registration System to vote anyway, provided the individual swears eligibility, according to court documents.

“There’s a continuing problem in Minnesota with ineligible felons voting and the courts and Secretary of State and election judges haven’t gotten on the same page, and these close elections without a doubt are being determined by the votes of ineligible felons,” said Erick Kaardal, MVA’s attorney.

Other states offer provisional ballots to same day registrants that are not tallied until the voter’s eligibility is confirmed.

Simon’s response, filed with the court, disputes the basis of the lawsuit, including “assertions regarding the number of persons ineligible due to a felony conviction who voted in various elections.”