113 convictions represent small fraction of total unlawful votes
ST. PAUL, Minn., Oct. 13, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Minnesota Majority today released a report on voter fraud convictions to date stemming from Minnesota's 2008 general election. The report finds that 113 individuals who voted illegally in the 2008 election have been convicted of the crime, "ineligible voter knowingly votes" under Minnesota Statute 201.014.
"As far as we can tell, this is the largest number of voter fraud convictions arising from a single election in the past 75 years," said Minnesota Majority president Jeff Davis, "Prosecutions are still underway and so there will likely be even more convictions."
The highest number of convictions ever recorded in the United States came from the 1936 Jackson County, Missouri elections in which 259 individuals were convicted of voter fraud. A more recent five-year probe by the United States Department of Justice identified just 53 convictions for voter fraud nationwide.
"It's mind-boggling to me that as a tiny non-profit corporation, we netted more than double the number of convictions in one year than the US Department of Justice was able to find in five," said Davis.
Minnesota's recent charges and convictions stem from research initiated by Minnesota Majority. The research identified upwards of 2,800 ineligible felons believed to have unlawfully voted in Minnesota's 2008 general election.
"These convictions are just the tip of the iceberg," said Davis. "The actual number of illegal votes cast was in the thousands. Most unlawful voters were never charged with a crime because they simply pled ignorance. We have evidence of these people casting illegal ballots, but in Minnesota, ignorance of election law is considered to be an acceptable defense."
At the time of this report, nearly 200 additional cases are still pending trial. But time is running out for any additional cases to be prosecuted. The statute of limitations on election crimes is three years, and will expire for the 2008 election this November. Anyone who county attorneys have not charged by then will go free.
"The problem rests largely on our current Election Day registration system," said Davis. "Most of the fraudulent votes cast in 2008 could have been prevented by using the normal registration and verification processes. But since the Election Day registration process does not include eligibility verifications, it simply leaves the door open to these kinds of abuses."
Minnesota law requires voters to register at least 20 days before an election so that the information they provide and their eligibility to vote can be verified by election workers before they vote on Election Day. However, Election Day registration creates an exception. People who register at the polling place are given a ballot without first being subject to the same scrutiny.
"This is an example of why creating two classes of voters is unacceptable," said Davis. "You shouldn't be subject to less scrutiny than everyone else, just because you waited until the last minute to register. Less responsible voters are allowed to cut in line and cast a ballot without being validated and this is what happens."
Investigations of voter fraud are also now underway from Minnesota's 2010 election.
SOURCE Minnesota Majority