The DFL is quick to tell anyone who’ll listen that Minnesota’s election system is the gold standard by which all other election systems should be judged against. Since the 2010 elections, there’s been a steady drip, drip, drip that’s destroying the DFL’s arguments. Mitch Berg has done a great job chronicling the problems, starting with the Clark Lake Group Home fiasco:
In the original videos, taken the Saturday before election day, Monty Jensen – a disabled Army veteran who vigorously disclaims any history of significant political activism – recounted his story; he and his girlfriend went to the Crow Wing County Courthouse to get absentee ballots (they both work and go to school in the Twin Cities, and wouldn’t be able to vote on election day). They claimed to have seen a group of mentally-handicapped group home residents being herded through the Crow Wing County courthouse, and to have seen the group home’s staffers filling out the clients’ ballots for them – a clear violation of state law.
Jensen filed an affadavit on Election Day with Crow Wing County attorney Don Ryan. The County Sheriff’s office carried out an investigation. Ryan declined to prosecute; a source in the county courthouse speaking off the record said that Ryan acted under the discretion that Minnesota Statute 201.275 grants him. There are questions about both the discretion – Ron Kaus is demanding a special prosecutor – and the investigation, which went as far as to interrogate Monty Jensen’s long-estranged father, but did not interview the second witness to the original incident, Jensen’s girlfriend.
Now, Mitch has found another bit of information that suggests that Minnesota’s election system isn’t as good as the paid DFL mouthpieces have said it is:
Six people have recently been charged in St. Louis County with a felony crime that is rarely seen on a Northeastern Minnesota court docket: “Voting while ineligible.”Its a felony punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, but a conviction most likely will result in a probationary sentence.Under Minnesota law, a person is ineligible to vote if his or her civil rights had not been restored after being convicted of treason, or any felony, or while under a guardianship in which a court order revoked the wards right to vote, or if found by a court of law to be legally incompetent.All six of the people charged – four at the St. Louis County District Court in Duluth and two at the St. Louis County District Court in Hibbing – are accused of being convicted felons when they allegedly voted in the November 2008 general election.”We discovered these cases left over from the previous administration,” St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin said. “Weve tried to address the backlog. We reviewed them all and charged those that were deemed to have probable cause to charge.”
Antonio Vassel Brown, 48, is being transported from the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Lino Lakes, where hes serving a 24-month sentence for the sale of crack, to make his initial appearance on the ineligible voter charge in Duluth on Aug. 30.
If Minnesota truly has the best voting system in the nation, how can these alleged crimes be committed? Again and again, felons are voting before being eligible. That shouldn’t happen if our system is the gold standard. The Help America Vote Act of 2002, aka HAVA, commanded the top election official in each state to update the SVRS (State Voter Registration System) on a timely basis. Clearl, that isn’t happening.
Let’s remember that Ramsey County was conducting a widespread voting fraud investigation earlier this year:
A widespread voter fraud investigation has led to charges against 11 people in Washington County with prosecutors saying more charges were forthcoming.
All of the people charged are convicted felons who had not been cleared to vote, with most infractions occurring during the 2010 election. But prosecutors said some charges went back as far as 2008.
Under Minnesota law, convicted felons can vote, but only after they’ve completed the terms of their supervised release. Most of the suspects when asked about the allegation pleaded ignorance.
“I didn’t know I couldn’t” said Asst. Washington Co. Attorney Rick Hodsdon, describing what was commonly heard when the suspects were confronted.
Hodsdon said all allegations of voter fraud have to be investigated under Minnesota law.
“It’s an effort to ensure the integrity of the election,” Hodsdon said.
The charges stem from complaints that came from the Washington County Election Division. More than 50 complaints were forwarded to the county attorney in January, prompting the investigation, Hodsdon said.
There are really two problems rolled up into one heading. The first problem is that the Secretary of State’s office isn’t updating the SVRS, much less on a timely basis. The fact of the matter is that Mark Ritchie’s administration has been, at best, indifferent to peforming these routine but important responsibilities.
Check back later for the other problem, which merits a seperate post.