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Even the people pushing voter ID in Minnesota don't think the election is 'rigged'

Donald Trump holding a campaign rally in Naples, Florida, on Sunday.
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Donald Trump holding a campaign rally in Naples, Florida, on Sunday.

Count Minnesota Majority President Dan McGrath as one of the doubters of Donald Trump’s claims that the presidential election is going to be rigged.

His skepticism is notable. Minnesota Majority, after all, is the conservative watchdog group that led the movement for a state constitutional amendment on voter I.D. and that aggressively seeks out cases of voter fraud. 

But from his experience, which includes recruiting poll-watchers through Minnesota Majority and an umbrella organization, Election Integrity Watch, McGrath doubts that voter fraud could be a factor in the presidential election. “I think it would be difficult to sway an election with a big victory margin. If you’re talking 1 to 2 percent that could be more feasible, but it would take a lot of effort to orchestrate,” he said.  

And orchestration is daunting, he said. “All elections are state business, so orchestrating a national campaign would have to be coordinated with states, each with their own elections laws."

Voter fraud, according to McGrath, is usually conducted on small-scale campaigns – county, city and sheriff’s races. “That’s mostly where elected officials have been caught and prosecuted,” he said.  

mcgrath portrait
MinnPost file photo by James Nord
Dan McGrath

After the 2008 election in which Democrat Al Franken beat incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman by 312 votes, Minnesota Majority undertook an investigation that focused on convicted felons who voted in the 2008 election. (Minnesota law allows felons to vote only after serving time and probation.)

In the years since, McGrath and his group worked with lawmakers, and most recently DFL Secretary of State Steve Simon, “to make it as difficult as possible to cheat” in the polling booth. 

His biggest victory in that arena was a court ruling that overturned the online voter registration system established by former Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. And during the last legislative session, McGrath says he worked with Simon on another election fraud measure, helping pass a law that limits the number of people for whom someone can vouch from 15 to seven and requiring those vouchers to register not just with a signature but a printed name.  

“It’s still incremental,” McGrath said.  “We’re still shooting for voter I.D.”

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Comments (18)

Rigging

People who push voter ID don't talk about rigging elections because rigging elections is what voter ID is intended to do.

Rest of the world...

Europe and even 3rd World countries require IDs for the privilege of voting. We will never know the real extent of voter fraud until we have voter ID.

Forget the rest, we're the best

Nonsense. Until you can cite a single case of voter fraud of determining the outcome of a modern election in Minnesota, there is no case for voter ID. States have the right to conduct their own elections, and ours has done a fine job in recent years. Your “solution” causes more problems than it solves.

Creating More Problems than Are Solved

That's a feature, not a bug. The real purpose of voter ID laws is far removed from the high-minded talk about ensuring integrity of elections. Instead, it is suppressing voter turnout in traditionally Democratic constituencies. The problems that are created are for people in these constituencies who want to vote.

Minnesota

has voter I.D. It is called voter registration. It works. What Republicans wanted back when it was refused at the polls, and what they still want now is Voter Restriction.

As an election judge...

...I can confirm that election fraud in our state would be very difficult, if possible at all. Speaking with some relatives in Indiana who are also poll workers, they said the same.

I note McGrath offered no specific instances of voter fraud in Minnesota.

Voter ID only prevents people from "impersonating" a registered voter, which most experts say is the rarest form of election fraud. So voter ID is a solution to a problem that doesn't really exist.

Voter Fraud

To narrow the definition down slightly, an ID would only reduce (not eliminate) in-person voter impersonation. People could still impersonate someone if they use an absentee ballot, regardless of what ID is issued.

Also, an ID can be faked--just ask any twenty year old who wants a drink. So it's not likely to eliminate in-person voter fraud, just reduce it.

Judge Ye So

I've been an election judge for over twenty years and have yet to see even a single case of in-person voter fraud. Nor have I heard of any from the other judges and city clerks I've talked to.

There was one case a few years ago where a young lady got an absentee ballot, but didn't fill it out, sign it, nor send it in before heading off to college. Her mother then filled it out and signed it on her behalf and the daughter voted in person at college.

Needless to say, an ID wouldn't have done anything in that case.

Universal ID

Until everyone has a government furnished ID card at no cost in locations that are easy to access, voter ID discriminates against those who don't have or drive cars - the poor, the young and the old. The party that exists to advance the interests of affluent white people benefits from every legitimate voters who is turned away, so it is not surprising they advocate a policy that discriminates. What is surprising is how some courts have not found their actions unconstitutional.

Suggest to republican white voters

That every person have a free U.S. ID to vote and they go crazy

Please

Chicken Littles like McGrath have been hyping nonexistent voter fraud for decades, and Trump's ridiculous claims about election rigging are the logical extension. McGrath himself has variously said that Minnesota is #1 in the nation for voter fraud, that his failed voter ID campaign and the Franken/Coleman race were lost as a result of voter fraud. Heck, he's still doing it - 1 to 2% of votes being fraudulent is a staggeringly high number. In the one billion votes cast in this country between 2000 and 2014, there are only 31 cases of potential fraud, a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent.

Ironically, if they had just been honest from the beginning about Voter ID as a tool to suppress minority/low income voting then Trump would have a lot less ammo for his claim.

Remember

When people like me point out the fact that republicans have spent decades cultivating the misinformed, fear laden, and ignorant voter base that has given them Donald Trump as a their candidate, Dan McGrath is a perfect example of the kind of farmer we've been discussing.

McGrath and his cohorts spent years promoting bogus anxieties and misinformation about voter fraud and elections in an attempt to tilt outcomes in their own party's favor. Their tales of "rampant" voter fraud and "thousands" of invalid registration cards were themselves an attempt to "rig" elections in republican favor under the theory that voter ID requirements and provisional ballots would disenfranchise more likely democratic voters than republicans. So yeah, when they admit the system isn't rigged they speak from the perspective of those who tried and failed to rig it. In other states where these initiatives managed to pass the courts are striking them down like Paul Bunyan clear cutting a path to the mess tent.

Remember, after this election Trump with be little more than toasted history but republicans like McGrath will still be here, churning out the mumbo jumbo slurp that put Trump on the ticket to begin with. In the mean time... where's the popcorn?

What's the problem with this idea?

I did spend some time researching possibility of voter’s fraud in Minnesota exchanging numerous e-mails with Secretary of State Office and I can say that in Minnesota it is practically impossible to commit a fraud in elections.

However, here is a question: should ineligible voters be permitted to vote? I hope the answer is an obvious “no”. Then the next question: does the ‘no’ answer to the previous question mean that voters shall prove their eligibility during registration? I hope the answer here is obvious “yes”. Then he third question: Why would anyone complain about people bringing to the polling place the same documents they use to prove their eligibility for registration?

Documentation

As an election judge, I can already see the enormous lines that would form if the judges had to recheck each and every voter that came in the door. Plus there would be a ton of people who would walk away pissed off because they either didn't know they were supposed to bring documentation in or brought in the wrong or incomplete documentation.

Quite frankly, that would be a logistical nightmare. And for what end? Because a few ineligible people in the entire country vote?

You would end up turning more valid voters away at the polls than you would capturing ineligible voters.

Because...

Why should you register twice? Once before and again the polling place? Your registration is already "proven" by the time you get to the polls unless you're registering on the same day, and even then a photo ID is not one of the required documents for registration. Since it's already nearly impossible to vote fraudulently, why slow down the vote with unnecessary document requirements?

Furthermore, requiring documents from people who are already legally registered simply creates a potential to deny legally registered voters a chance to actually vote. You're legally entitled to vote because your a citizen and properly registered but now we're not going to let you vote because you failed to bring unnecessary documents to the polling place? This is already happening and it's one of the reasons that courts have been striking down these requirements. They do nothing to secure election integrity but keep legal citizens from casting their votes.

It's worth it

First, I said it is difficult to cheat in elections in Minnesota – I am not sure about other states. Second, to speed up the line, the papers may be checked randomly at the polls. Third, many people may be upset because they are not eligible to vote – that is not the reason to let them vote. And forth, if this measure would bring more trust in election process, it will definitely be worth the efforts.

Of course, bringing papers to polling place is not the same as registering twice – no new paperwork will have to be filled. And seriously, don’t most people carry identifications with them anyway? And if they don’t have it, they will bring the registration papers…

If someone is determined to mistrust the process...

...there is little we can do to change their minds. Our rules are clear, the system works, our record speaks for itself. I agree with my fellow election judge that your solution would cause delays and longer lines, something no one should want. Giving some doubters "added confidence" is not a strong enough case for such a disruption, in my opinion.

No system involving human beings can claim 100% accuracy, and voting is no different. That said, I am completely convinced that voter fraud is not a significant problem in our state, and likely never will be. I'm glad you asked the SOS questions to ease any concerns you may of had.

On a personal note, I don't know much about Russian elections, Ilya. Do they have safeguards we don't?

ID

I would be all for a voter ID if there was widespread in-person voter fraud. But so far no one's been able to produce more than a case or two nation-wide. The only one I recall off-hand was a Republican donor Robert Monroe, who voted multiple times in various elections. Even then it looks like he committed most of his fraud through absentee ballots.