Reporting Jason DeRusha
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – When you think of the hanging chads in Florida, or the dead people who cast ballots in Chicago, it makes a billboard along Interstate-94 south of Albertville difficult to believe.
“Minnesota: #1 in voter fraud,” reads the ad, directing to a website from Election Integrity Watch.
“I have always been of the impression that Minnesota, being full of honest hard working folks, was relatively free of voter fraud,” emailed Duncan Fowler.
“Is that really true?” asked Greg Anderson.
“According to the research we’ve conducted it is,” said Jeff Davis, president of Minnesota Majority, a group that’s been advocating for a voter ID law in Minnesota for years. Minnesota Majority is part of the coalition behind Election Integrity Watch.
“We have the most voter fraud convictions in any state in the last 50 years,” Davis said.
Whether or not that is true, depends on what you include in a definition of “voter fraud.” In Minnesota, the Court Information Office said they’ve convicted 156 people of being a felon and voting. That is illegal.
But is that really voter fraud?
“The definition of voter fraud is illegal voting,” Davis said.
Those 156 convictions are out of nearly 3 million votes cast in a typical presidential election. According to the state, there were 73 cases still pending.
But is it disingenuous to say we’re number one when it’s such a miniscule percentage?
“The stats bear it out,” Davis said. “It’s not our data, it’s the state’s data.”
“This is a patently false claim,” said Dan McGrath, executive director of Take Action MN, a group that’s been fighting against the photo ID constitutional amendment.
“In an election season it’s nothing new to hear allegations to stir up fear,” he said.
McGrath says that Minnesota has had some razor-thin elections, and we’ve had reason to look for evidence of fraud. That’s not true in every other state.
“They looked around the country, turns out no one’s done a study like this. Minnesota Majority is trying to stir up fear, trying to stir up anxiety about the voting system,” Mcgrath said.
If you think of voter fraud as an organized effort where people are impersonating other voters, there’s never been a conviction of that in Minnesota.
“The number of convictions represent a small slice, it’s an indicator, it’s the tip of the iceberg,” Davis said.
It’s impossible to know for sure if Minnesota is or isn’t number one in voter fraud.