Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and Rachel Smith, Hennepin County’s elections manager, reported on the 2008 and 2010 elections and declared them free of voter fraud.
“I think you can be very proud of the way elections are done in Hennepin County,” Freeman told the Hennepin County Board at its Jan. 24 meeting.
Smith and Freeman said their offices worked together to investigate possible illegal voting during those two election years. In 2008, more than 665,000 people voted in Hennepin County. After the recount was completed, Smith’s division sent 21 suspected cases of felons voting before their civil rights were restored. In addition, the group Minnesota Majority sent 451 names to the county attorney’s office of people they suspected of voting illegally.
Freeman reported that half of those cases were dismissed due to lack of evidence. Of the remainder, there was enough evidence to charge 38 people, or 0.0057 percent of those voting in that election. All of those cases were felons ineligible to vote. The results were:
- 26 pleaded guilty;
- 3 cases were dismissed;
- 4 trials have been scheduled;
- 2 were picked up on warrants;
- 2 are still wanted on warrants.
In the 2010 election, more than 470,000 people voted in Hennepin County. After the recount, Smith’s division sent over 35 names and Minnesota Majority sent over 141 names, again with all of them being felons ineligible to vote.
This time, the county attorney declined to charge 100 of the cases because it couldn’t be proven they were ineligible to vote. Another 49 cases were not charged because it wasn’t possible to prove they knew they were ineligible to vote. Seven cases have been charged and the final 20 are being investigated with a charging decision expected by the spring.
Board members discussed the constitutional amendment being debated in the Minnesota Legislature which, if put on the ballot and passed by voters, would require voters to show identification in order to vote.
“In 13 years as county attorney, I have yet to see a case where an identification would have stopped a wrongful vote,” Freeman said. “There may be one, but I haven’t seen it yet.”
Instead, he would like to see a law requiring that letters be sent to convicted felons who are out of prison, but are still on probation, informing them they are not yet eligible to vote in a coming election.
Updated Fact Sheet now available.