Minnesota election law makes it easy for eligible citizens to register and vote. Those who want to suppress voting don't like this at all.
This election, the Orwellian-named Minnesota Voters Alliance is asking its friends to call in perfectly legal activity to the organization as "election irregularities."
On the Republican-friendly group's list of "irregularities"? College students voting without using a drivers' license, more than two people using an address to vote, an established registered voter vouching for the residence in a precinct of more than one person, and assistance for impaired voters.
UPDATE November 2, 2014: Gustavus Adolphus College computer science and mathematics profession and elections expert Max Hailperin has left a pertinent comment worth sharing:
Max Hailperin said:That truly is a remarkable list. Here's another aspect of Cilek's letter that's reality-challenged: what he proposes doing in response to "a call ... alleging a blatant, ongoing, unlawful activity in the polling place." He says that MVA will (among other things) "send witnesses to the scene to gather more data as needed." Recall that the scene is "in the polling place." So, exactly what witnesses could go there? Minnesota Statutes section 204C.06 has the answer, and it isn't a very long list. Unless MVA has at their disposal some properly credentialed news media representatives (or some even less likely possibilities), I don't see how they can legally make good on this. In fact, they wouldn't even be allowed within 100 feet of the building.
Students can register and vote without drivers licenses
None of these activities are illegal under Minnesota election law. As the Brennan Center for Justice notes, college students do not need a driver's license to vote:
Acceptable proof of address and identification includes: a valid Minnesota driver’s license, learner’s permit, non-driver ID card, or a receipt for any of those three that shows your current address; a current student photo ID card (provided your name appears on a housing list your school has provided to the county auditor); a current student fee statement that includes your voting address (you will also need to show a photo ID with this); a tribal identification card that has your current address, signature and picture; prior registration in the same precinct with a former name or address on the roster; or a “Notice of Late Registration” letter. You can also present any of the above IDs, or a U.S. passport, or a U.S. military ID, even if they do not show your current address, as long as you also present a bill (due within 30 days of the election) that does show your current address. Acceptable bills include those for telephone or cell phone service, television or internet provider services, electric, gas, water, garbage, solid waste, or sewer services. Documents may be displayed on an electronic device like a smartphone. . . .
No law against more than two voters at an address
As for more than two people using an address to vote, Minnesota Voters Alliance again seems to be targeting young voters, who are more likely to share apartments and houses to save on rent or to live at home while attending high school, or who return home after college while they establish themselves. It's also not unusual for children in farm families to stay on the home place until marriage.
In college towns, fun-loving and idealistic young folks sharing rent in places like the famous Bump City house (in Morris, located in the tight Minnesota House District 12A) aren't breaking any election law.
Moreover, it's not unusual for older Minnesotans to move into their children's homes, or those of nieces and nephews.
One previously registered voter may vouch for up to seven in precinct
While the Minnesota Voters Alliance and many Republicans don't like vouching, under Minnesota statute, a voter registered before election day can vouch for up to eight voters' residence in the precinct; employees of residential facilities in a precinct may also vouch. Here's the relevant section of statute outlining the rules for the registered voter to vouch:
(4) having a voter who is registered to vote in the precinct, or an employee employed by and working in a residential facility in the precinct and vouching for a resident in the facility, sign an oath in the presence of the election judge vouching that the voter or employee personally knows that the individual is a resident of the precinct. A voter who has been vouched for on election day may not sign a proof of residence oath vouching for any other individual on that election day. A voter who is registered to vote in the precinct may sign up to eight proof-of-residence oaths on any election day. This limitation does not apply to an employee of a residential facility described in this clause. The secretary of state shall provide a form for election judges to use in recording the number of individuals for whom a voter signs proof-of-residence oaths on election day. The form must include space for the maximum number of individuals for whom a voter may sign proof-of-residence oaths. For each proof-of-residence oath, the form must include a statement that the individual: (i) is registered to vote in the precinct or is an employee of a residential facility in the precinct, (ii) personally knows that the voter is a resident of the precinct, and (iii) is making the statement on oath. The form must include a space for the voter's printed name, signature, telephone number, and address.
The statute also outlines the rules governing how employees of residential facilities can vouch.
Assistance for impaired voters
According to the Minnesota Secretary of State's website, people living with disablities who have trouble marking ballots on their own can be assisted in the voting booth. The page outlines rules for this process--and suggests additional safeguards:
Rules for Those Marking a Ballot for You
People who go with you into the voting booth to help you mark your ballot must follow certain laws.
- Assistants cannot try to influence how you vote or share how you voted with others.
- Assistants cannot mark your ballot if you are unable to communicate your choices.
- An assistant can only physically mark ballots on behalf of a maximum of three voters each election.
- They may provide other forms of assistance to an unlimited number of voters.
- If someone marks a ballot on your behalf, you may show it privately to an election judge to confirm that it is correctly marked.
- If you ask election judges for assistance in marking your ballot, two election judges from different major political parties must help.
Individuals or organizations that want to provide assistance to voters may consider creating safeguards to avoid any appearance of wrongdoing. This could include having two individuals provide assistance to voters together.
Additionally, Minnesotans under guardianship can vote unless a court has ruled that they are incompetent to do so. The Bill Of Rights For Wards And Protected Persons (Minnesota Statute § 524.5-120) is available for review in a pdf here.
The law, signed by former Governor Pawlenty in 2009, is intended to discourage abuse by guardians. Minneapolis lawmaker Paul Thissen, now Speaker of the Minnesota House, filed the bill following public outrage over the case of Peggy Greer.
The Minnesota Voters Alliance has used the court system to attempt to restrict the rights of people under guardianship to vote; for more information, check out the discussion of the legal issues in the National Association of Elder Attorneys' Journal article, Voting Under Guardianship: Individual Rights Require Individual Review.
Reconstruction of the Fables of Voter Fraud: the email
We post the email from the Minnesota Voters Alliance below, and look forward to more years of groundless allegations of voter fraud in Minnesota's elections as the "friends" phone in reports of perfectly legal voting by students, roommates and other people across the state.
The litany of these grievious injuries to the voter suppression advocates' sensibilities will loop across our political discourse like a bad house mix tape. Lovely.
Here's the email:
October 30, 3014
(From the Minnesota Voters Alliance)
Please Report Election Irregularities to the Minnesota Voters Alliance
Hotline call-in number: 1-877-602-9282
Dear Friend of Election Integrity,
The Minnesota Voters Alliance (MVA) is working to prevent, detect, and forward to authorities for prosecution voter fraud in this November's elections.
On November 4, MVA staff will be gathered at the law offices of Mohrman, Kaardal, and Erickson. Volunteers and election law experts will be on hand to field your calls about suspected voter fraud or other election irregularities. If assistance is needed at a polling place in the Metro area, MVA staff will assist on site.
"There are a lot of directions a complaint can go," explained Andy Cilek, Executive Director of the MVA. "If a call comes in alleging a blatant, ongoing, unlawful activity in the polling place, we will contact the appropriate authorities in hope of thwarting it on the spot and send witnesses to the scene to gather more data as needed. Isolated incidents of suspected illegal voting may be referred to the appropriate county attorney or sheriff for further investigation. Our experts will determine the best course of action, call by call." In Minnesota, voter fraud is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
All calls to the hotline (877-602-9282) will be logged and used to compile statistics and assist future voter fraud research.
We do not expect you to be in a position to determine whether actual fraud is occurring and we are not asking that you take any action other than to inform us. What we want to know about are circumstances that could be indicative of ineligible voting. Armed with your input, after the election, we can look into the registrations and voting in that precinct with the hope of determining truly what happened.
Here are some of the main circumstances we would like to hear about:
- Bus load(s) of voters
- Vouching for more than one person
- Same address used by more than two persons
- Students registering without using a driver's license
- Vulnerable adults being "assisted" by another person
We look forward to hearing from you!
Minnesota Voters Alliance
Photo: Some of these cheeky University of Minnesota at Morris students enjoying a 2013 ice cream social might have the nerve to vote legally on November 4, 2014. The Minnesota Voters Alliance wants its friends to phone in reports.
If you appreciate Bluestem Prairie, you can mail contributions (payable to Sally Jo Sorensen P.O. Box 108, Maynard MN 56260) or use the paypal button below:
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