Updated: 06/29/2014 6:39 PM
Created: 06/27/2014 8:33 PM KSTP.com
By: Brandi Powell
Absentee voting started Friday, six weeks ahead of primary elections. Already there are strong allegations of voter fraud.
The attorney for Phyllis Kahn says he got word Thursday night; there might be hundreds of people who are registering and voting using an address that's not their home.
Absentee voting kicked-off Friday morning in a hotly contested democratic primary race for the state house between incumbent Phyllis Kahn and Mohamud Noor.
Brian Rice, attorney for the Phyllis Kahn Volunteer Committee, claims there's voter fraud.
"I think there is a coordinated effort to use this address to bring voters into the DFL primary election on August 12, that's what I think is going on," Rice said. "It's wrong, it violates Minnesota Law, it's a crime."
According to voter registration records from the Secretary of State's office and the DFL Voter Activation Network more than 140 people used 419 Cedar Avenue South in Minneapolis as their home address, when they registered to vote.
The address is for what's called Cedar Mailbox Center. The building manager and mail center's employees weren't comfortable speaking on camera, but they said they were surprised by the allegations.
They say nobody put the wrong address on purpose. For 13 years, many Somali-Americans from all across the state have been getting their mail there. They say nobody lives there.
"We're asking for an investigation under laws that exist to get to the bottom of this matter," Rice said.
Under state law, you must live in the precinct where you're voting.
"It's possible that some of these new registrants have already voted, and if they don't live there, they've committed a felony," Rice said.
Friday afternoon, Rice brought this to the attention of Hennepin County Election officials by serving this petition.
"If we don't have integrity in our elections, we have nothing," Rice said.
Hennepin County election officials confirm they have received the petition and they are looking into it. They said they will have a response in five days.
We reached out to the Mohamud Noor campaign for reaction to the petition that was filed, challenging voters at "419 Cedar avenue South." They issued the following statement:
The Mohamud Noor for House campaign’s early voting program brought hundreds of voters to the polls today on the first day of early voting in the DFL primary in House District 60B. According to the City of Minneapolis Elections & Voter Services Division, 447 voters cast their ballot today, nearly 300 more votes cast than on the first day of early voting in the 2013 city elections. Campaign records show that the overwhelming majority of those 447 voters were brought to the polls by the Mohamud Noor campaign. The campaign’s dozens of volunteers ran shuttles and busses from around the district to encourage voters to cast their ballot early.
Mohamud Noor, candidate for Minnesota House said, “Today has been an incredibly exciting day. This campaign is bigger than just me, it’s about getting everyone engaged in the democratic process. It has been truly inspiring to see so many people get involved and get out to vote today.”
Noor went on to say, “So many people have told me their stories of how my campaign has made them feel empowered to take part in the political process for the first time, people like Muna Muse from Seward. Muna has been a citizen for almost a decade and today she exercised her right to vote for the very first time. I’m so honored that she voted for me, but also that our campaign was able to energize new DFL voices to re-elect Governor Dayton and Senator Franken.”
Responding to the petition filed by former Kahn campaign manager Brian Rice, Mohamud Noor said, “I categorically deny any assertion of wrongdoing on the part of my campaign, and I welcome an investigation into the baseless allegations raised by Brian Rice. Allegations of fraud are serious and must be investigated thoroughly. My campaign is committed to a transparent and inclusive process for all voters and I am extremely proud of the work done by all of my campaign’s volunteers to further the goal of a free, fair, and safe election for everyone in the district. My campaign has focused on voter turnout and education; because of the high rate of participation by East Africans in elections, we have carried out no voter registration campaigns, contrary to the implications of Mr. Rice.”