What's Legal and What's Not: Allegations of Voter Registration Fraud

Updated: 07/02/2014 7:40 AM
Created: 07/01/2014 4:41 PM
By: Brandi Powell

We are continuing to follow accusations of voter-registration fraud in a Democratic primary for the State House of Representatives. We broke the story last week, and that set off a flurry of questions about what is legal and what is not.

On Friday, absentee voting began six weeks ahead of the primary election. We reported that Brian Rice, the attorney for the Phyllis Kahn campaign, filed a petition challenging voters who registered to vote using 419 Cedar Ave. S. as their home address.

Rice claims the 140-plus people who registered to vote do not live there.

On Saturday, we reported the response from the incumbent's opponent, Mohamud Noor. Noor denies any wrongdoing on the part of his campaign. He welcomes the investigation and calls Rice's allegations baseless.

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 Ave. S. in Minneapolis as their home address when they registered to vote.

"I think there is a coordinated effort to use this address to bring voters into the DFL primary election on Aug. 12; that's what I think is going on," Rice said.

We asked top election officials in Hennepin County if you can register using a P.O. Box or location where you receive your mail, whether you're voting absentee or not.

Elections Manager Ginny Gelms with Hennepin County said the answer is no.

"You do have to register with your residential address in order to register to vote, and the reason for that is we have to be able to put you in the correct precinct, find out where you live, so that you vote on the correct races for where you actually live," Gelms said. "We do not typically get petitions like this in a typical election; the last time they had a petition like this was 2006. This petition starts off a process that requires our office to respond within 5 days and set a hearing; we are required to have a hearing."

During the hearing, the auditor will decide if the people registered to vote at that address can in fact be registered there. Additionally, if they find the building is a commercial building, they can take that address out of the precinct finder and voters will no longer be able to register there.

In the meantime, an investigation is being done by the county attorney's office, Gelms said.

Omar Jamal, who's part of Minnesota's Somali-American community, says many of those 140-plus people plan to show up to the hearing.

"People will come and they will testify and tell their side of the story," Jamal said.

Jamal claims Rice is using scare tactics.

"They're using every tactic possible to bully the community, intimidate them, but what makes it even more strange is that not even that far - just recently - when they did vote the same way they are doing now - see no evil - hear no evil...Rice knew very well...they did this before," Jamal said.

Jamal said he will ask for the investigation to be extended by soon filing a petition to look into these addresses from the mayoral and city council elections, when Jamal says the 140-plus people used this address to register to vote.

The hearing for the petition is scheduled for July 10.

See our previous coverage of the voter fraud accusations:

  • Watch Part  here: Allegations of Voter Fraud in Hotly Contested Minn. House DFL Primary Race.
  • Watch Part 2 here: Response to Allegations of Voter Fraud in Minn. House DFL Primary Race.

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