Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Felon voters in Hennepin County: 7 convictions, 40 cases pending

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office announced today that it has charged — or will charge — 47 cases of felon voting and double-counting, significantly less than the number of alleged cases brought to the prosecutor’s office by the Minnesota Majority, a conservative watchdog group.

In a letter from Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, Freeman said that seven felon voters and/or double voters have been charged and convicted, with 40 cases pending.

Here is the text of Freeman’s letter (PDF).

Freeman also wrote that Minnesota Majority leaders sent a list of more than 800 names of alleged felon voters last year. Later, after receiving notice that the 800 allegations were insufficient to charge, the Minnesota Majority submitted a list of 451 names. The organization’s facts were significantly inaccurate, Freeman said.

MinnPost has reported on this issue before.

The matter of proving these cases can be difficult, as was shown in a controversial case in Crookston earlier this year.

Even before the Minnesota Majority allegations, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie’s office had begun sending suspicious-voter cases to county attorneys statewide, and Hennepin County was independently looking into potential voter fraud.

The county said these 47 cases “represent all the chargeable offenses resulting from our investigation into all alleged offenses.”

In a release, Freeman’s office said, “There was no evidence of any organized effort to enable or promote this activity.”

Comments (9)

  1. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/26/2010 - 05:15 pm.

    47 cases. In one county.

    Anyone still going to claim there is no spoon?

  2. Submitted by Robert Ryan on 10/26/2010 - 10:31 pm.

    47 cases in the county that has 21% of the state’s population and 27% of it’s crime doesn’t prove much. And you would have to assume that all felons voted for the same candidate. I don’t think this makes a strong case that they changed the end result.

  3. Submitted by William Pappas on 10/27/2010 - 06:28 am.

    This issue of voting felons is just a prop to argue for voter ID. It is not necessary and indeed would be another impediment to increased voter participation in which Minnesota frequently leads the nation. Besides, felons would assuredly vote for the ethically challenged Coleman in greater numbers. If they were mostly white collar felons they’d probably all vote for him. What a rediculous issue to spend our time when so many critical threats to our future and the fate of our democracy are being perpetrated by an activist Supreme Court and the growing effectiveness of third party misinformation campaigns.

  4. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/27/2010 - 09:36 am.

    William, are you suggesting that the integrity of our electoral system is a matter of trivial importance?


    Even if, as you assure us, felons vote a straight GOP ticket, count me as one who is more than willing to surrender their support to ensure the security of the ballot box.

    But then again, although I’m aware that others feel differently, I’m one that believes the future of America is somewhat more important than a short term political advantage…

    47 fraudulent votes would account for more than 10% of the number that put Senator* Franken in the Senate.

    47 votes, William….from one county, out of 87.

  5. Submitted by Dan Hintz on 10/27/2010 - 10:49 am.

    Normally I don’t feed the trolls, Swiftee, but since your comment doesn’t contain any of your usual bile and is just dishonest and misleading, I will make an exception.

    “47 fraudulent votes would account for more than 10% of the number that put Senator* Franken in the Senate.

    47 votes, William….from one county, out of 87.”

    That is, of course, assuming that 100 percent of those 47 voted for Franken (and assuming that all 47 cases result in convictions). Remember, the one illegal voter who disclosed who he voted for said he voted for Coleman.

    The one county out of 87 in question happens to contain more than 20 percent of Minnesota’s population. So even if you assume that 1) again, every one of the 47 is convicted 2)the rate of illegal voting is the same throughout the state as it is in Hennepin county, and 3) that every single illegal voter voted for Franken, the outcome of the race would not have changed.

    The DFL legislature, supported by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, passed legislation that would have helped prevent these few instances of illegal voting by informing people in the corrections system of their voting rights and coordinating information between corrections and the Secretary of State’s office. This legislation was opposed by Republican Secretary of State nominee Dan Severson, and was ultimately vetoed by Governor Pawlenty.

    The Republican solution – voter ID – does absolutely nothing to prevent the problem of felon voting. The problem here wasn’t that people could not be identified or claimed to be someone else. Rather, the problem was that they were inelligible to vote. Being a felon does not prevent you from obtaining an ID.

  6. Submitted by David Brauer on 10/27/2010 - 11:04 am.

    Tom has a math problem.

    “One of 87” would make sense if the population was distributed evenly within counties. It isn’t.

    Hennepin has roughly a quarter of the state’s population. Multiply 47 by 4 and you get 188 potentially prosecutable felonies. (Remember, not convicted yet.)

    Even if all these folks voted for Franken (a fantasy of some), he still wins.

    Is vote fraud trivial? Well, no, but these numbers are pretty close to it, even in the closest Senate election we’re ever likely to see. Meat-ax approaches like scary posters in DFL-voting areas, photo surveillance and photo ID are overbroad.

    By the way, there was a bill proposed to link the felony database to voter rolls. Mark Ritchie supported it. It died in the legislature, and not for single-party reasons.

  7. Submitted by Nancy Gertner on 10/27/2010 - 11:16 am.

    Does Minnesota Majority advocate for larger government so more resources are available to spend more time researching alleged cases of voter fraud?

  8. Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 10/27/2010 - 11:35 am.

    One thing Mike Freeman didn’t mention was how many prosecutable cases were instances of voting, and how many of registering without voting, which is still illegal. Ramsey County said 13 of their 23 cases were registration without voting. If Hennepin is similar, that would be roughly 20 actual votes. Since Ramsey and Hennepin are such a large portion of the state’s population, even if all illegal votes were cast for Franken — and Coleman got the one vote we know of — there isn’t enough to change the result.

    Moreover, since in Ramsey it turned out election officials had already identified the real cases, it seems reasonable to ask if any of these cases in Hennepin were dug up by Minnesota Majority.

    We should take notice that all but a tiny handful of cases are felons voting when their rights weren’t restored. If we let felons vote once out of prison — like we expect from responsible citizens — voter fraud is almost non-existent. Even those charged cases aren’t convictions yet. The accused might still be able to show they honestly thought their rights were restored, and it makes sense: who would risk jail for one illegal vote?

    So essentially, we see that Minnesota Majority’s data is bunk, as are the charges of organized voter fraud. This is exactly the sort of thing the phrase “zombie myth” was invented for.

  9. Submitted by Todd Adler on 10/29/2010 - 01:26 pm.

    Felons have their voting rights restored once their sentence is complete. That doesn’t mean they get to vote once they’re out of prison because their sentence includes a probationary period.

Leave a Reply