Opponent Accuses Minneapolis City Council Member of Voter Suppression, 'Jim Crow' Tactics

Opponent Accuses Minneapolis City Council Member of Voter Suppression, 'Jim Crow' Tactics Photo: KSTP

April 21, 2017 01:14 PM

A candidate running for a seat on the Minneapolis City Council is accusing the incumbent, Ward 9 representative Alondra Cano, of attempting to create a racial divide by challenging nearly every East African delegate to the 9th Ward DFL Convention on April 29.

Mohamed Farah issued a press release stating Trish Welte, a campaign manager for Cano, filed a challenge to 101 delegates and alternates to the convention, which is scheduled to be held at Minneapolis South High School.


Of those 101 challenges, 90 are to delegates with East African surnames.

Farah, the executive director of the Somali nonprofit Ka Joog, went on to call the challenges 'voter suppression plain and simple' and accused Cano of using 'Jim Crow tactics.'

Delegates were chosen in DFL precinct caucuses on April 4. Cano and Farah are vying with former City Council member Gary Schiff for the seat.

Both Farrah and Schiff say Cano has challenged their delegate status as well.

In a statement, Cano said the challenges were based on irregularities her campaign identified, but added she wants to see as many people involved in the caucus process as possible:

"Anticipating a huge turnout, we prepared in advance by offering several trainings before the caucus to diminish confusion that night," she said in the statement. "Still, there were a number of irregularities in the process that we identified, including people participating in caucuses that don't live in our ward and others becoming delegates in precincts where they don't live. Our volunteers on the Credentials Committee are working to match the addresses in the DFL's database with the names of people who signed up to become delegates to allow them to participate even though they didn't provide their addresses on caucus night.

"Our campaign has been open to accommodating as many people as possible into this process while protecting the integrity of our volunteer-led caucus process, one which honors those who live in our ward to participate locally and shape the outcome.  I look forward to seeing hundreds of Ninth Ward residents at our April 29th DFL Convention so we come together to continue the work of making Minneapolis a place where all of our residents have access to quality education, affordable housing, a living wage, and a robust democracy."

Earlier in the day, Cano told the Star Tribune that the 101 delegates being challenged did not sign in to participate in the April 4 caucus. She told the newspaper that at least three delegates do not live in the precinct they were elected in and at least 27 delegates and alternates did not write down their addresses when they registered.

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Farah, however, attacked the strategy, saying the moves were meant to target East African delegates.

"Alondra Cano is acting like Donald Trump," Farah said in the release. "Trump wants a Muslim travel ban and Cano wants to ban East Africans from the DFL endorsement process based on their surnames alone."

Schiff said Farah's claims match what his campaign has found. He is calling for the state DFL party to step in and settle the matter.

"In all my years in politics, I've never seen an effort to disenfranchise so many people of one race in the DFL," Schiff said.

"We're asking the state party to step in and protect the rights of voters who are being disenfranchised," he added.


Frank Rajkowski

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