New York Times story cites St. Paul Tea Party rewards for illegal voters

A New York Times story today about Tea Party’s efforts to prevent voter fraud in the November election cites as one example an effort in St. Paul.

Says the paper:

In St. Paul, organizers from the Tea Party and related groups announced this week that they were offering a $500 reward for anyone who turns in someone who is successfully prosecuted for voter fraud.

The group is also organizing volunteer “surveillance squads” to photograph and videotape suspected irregularities, and in some cases to follow buses that take voters to the polls.

Two weeks ago, a group called Election Integrity Watch — a joint effort of Minnesota Majority, Minnesota Voters Alliance and the North Star Tea Party Patriots — issued a news release in St. Paul, talking about the bounties:

We are putting a price on the heads of anyone who would attempt to organize people with the intent of cheating in our election,” said Jeff Davis, president of Minnesota Majority. “We’ve received reports of organizers enticing people to vote fraudulently with small financial incentives such as gift cards. We’ve also seen evidence of this illegal practice in the official incident logs from the 2008 election. We will now offer individuals a more lucrative incentive for turning-in these organizers of voter fraud.”

The Times story says that liberal groups and voting rights advocates around the country are fighting the efforts, “claiming that such strategies are scare tactics intended to suppress minority and poor voters.”

Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by William Pappas on 10/27/2010 - 06:19 am.

    These actions are of course intimidation and should offend everyone. As democracy is challenged by the activism and tortured logic of the Roberts Court in the ruling on Citizen’s United the efforts of right wing zealots to intimidate get out the vote efforts are reminiscent of southern white’s brutal suppression of African American’s attempts to vote in the early days of the Civil Rights Act. There can be no doubt that right wing efforts to impose voter ID and intimidate poor and minority voters is a calculated and effective way to suppress turnout. This latest effort to dog the poor and disadvantaged on the way to the polls is outrageously intimidating and should quickly be declared illegal and a punishable offense.

  2. Submitted by Sheila Ehrich on 10/27/2010 - 08:22 am.

    This is the story I was looking for on MinnPost last Friday after Election Integrity Watch made it’s announcement which I heard Thursday on MPR.

    Why isn’t this getting more play not only on MinnPost but also in other media? Are media outlets concerned that by giving it more play it will intimidate more voters? Or do they think this is some crackpot organization that’s not going to be able to follow through with its threats? Even if it intimidates only one voter to stay away from the polls they will have succeeded!

    I myself am absolutely outraged by this and I think more people would be if they knew about it. I would like to know if there is something that I, as a voter, could do that would mitigate the effects of this sort of voter harrassment.

  3. Submitted by Jonathan Langer on 10/27/2010 - 09:54 am.

    So, wait. They’re offering a reward for *fraudulent* voters, right? In other words, voters who are voting illegally. Am I understanding this correctly? Not legitimate minority voters who aren’t voting for Tea Party candidates, but illegal voters? Explain to me how this is bad. They’re attempting to stop voter fraud. Are we suggesting that voter fraud is ok if it’s for the “right” reasons? Crap, man, I dislike the Tea Party, but, I fail to see anything wrong with this other than it being obnoxious, and we’re already used to seeing that from this movement.

  4. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/27/2010 - 11:12 am.

    I’ve got the same question, Jonathan.

    Why would anyone object to ensuring the integrity of our electoral process? And further, why would minorities or poor people be intimidated?

    Is there a feeling on the left that that somehow equates certain ethnicities and lower economic position with an inherent criminal intent?

    Count me as one that encourages every legitimate voter in the country to exercise their franchise, while applauding those who are willing to pick up the responsibilities some Secretaries of State fail to discharge competently.

  5. Submitted by Josh Williams on 10/27/2010 - 01:20 pm.

    Let’s all be reasonable here. Of course no one–left or right or whatever–supports fraudulent or otherwise illegal voting. But that doesn’t mean that groups of presumably well-meaning citizens won’t have undesirable impacts on the willingness/ability of legal voters to vote.

    Imagine you are a minority, or perhaps living in poverty. Imagine you have never voted. Wouldn’t a group of ( and I’m guessing here on the make-up of “surveillance squads”) somewhat confrontational, white people be at the very least intimidating? It’s not difficult to imagine members of such groups taking their efforts so far as to challenge folks regarding their eligibility or even their reasons for voting.

    The failure of the tea party movement to dissociate itself from overtly racist and violent groups (see the Southern Poverty Law Center’s research on this topic), only makes it all the harder to dismiss such concerns.

    It is the job of election judges, and only election judges, to verify voters eligibility.

    And if you suspect fraud in the form of voter enticements, by all means collect evidence and make sure law enforcement is aware of these activities. But the polling place is not the place for these activities.

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