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GOP demands probe of alleged voter fraud in Franken-Coleman election

A top House Republican is wading into the emerging controversy over voting fraud in the 2008 Minnesota Senate election, as Republicans on the state level called for investigations into voter fraud.

WASHINGTON — A top House Republican is wading into the emerging controversy over voting fraud in the 2008 Minnesota Senate election, as Republicans on the state level called for investigations into voter fraud.

California Rep. Darrell Issa, in a letter to Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, today requested that Ritchie “direct Minnesota county auditors, municipal clerks, school district clerks and other appropriate state and local officials to retain indefinitely all records and materials from the November 2008 election currently in their custody.”

Issa’s request is based on a report by the conservative group Minnesota Majority, which said it found more cases of felons who voted than the 312-vote margin that Franken was declared to have won by.

On Wednesday, Gov. Tim Pawlenty (who signed Franken’s election certification) suggested on Fox News that voter fraud “may have flipped the election.”

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The likelihood that voter fraud perpetrated by convicted felons could have influenced the outcome of the 2008 Minnesota Senate race justifies further investigation into these matters,” Issa wrote.

Earlier today, state GOP chairman Tony Sutton wrote to all 87 counties requesting each one open its own investigation into voter fraud in the 2008 election. So far, Ramsey, Hennepin and Olmsted counties have begun their own investigations.

“While there will always be a cloud over the 2008 election, we must get to the bottom of the extent to which illegal voter fraud occurred,” Sutton said.

A spokeswoman for Franken declined to comment. And Coleman has said he’s “not looking back.”

Franken’s lead lawyer during the months-long recount, Marc Elias, told The Hill Wednesday that the 2008 election had been thoroughly litigated and fairly decided.

“Sen. Coleman was represented by some of the best lawyers there are in the country,” Elias said Wednesday. “At the end of that process, the lead lawyer for Sen. Coleman told the state Supreme Court that there was no evidence of persistent fraud in the election.”

“It’s a process that I think both Sen. Coleman and the Franken side thought worked well,” Elias added.

It should be noted that the report in question is itself being questioned — Phil Carruthers, who is directing the investigation in the Ramsey County Attorney’s office said Minnesota Majority “did as well as they could do given the data they had, but much of their data is not good.” Of 475 cases Minnesota Majority questioned, Carruthers said 270 of them were just not accurate.

And while Pawlenty openly mused that he figures most felons would vote for Franken, the Star Tribune recently noted that the only voting fraud raised during the recount was raised by Team Franken, citing a Warroad man who said he voted for Coleman.