Did illegal felon voters determine the outcome of the critical 2008 Minnesota Senate election? The day after the election, GOP Senator Norm Coleman had a 725 vote lead, but a series of recounts over the next six months reversed that result and gave Democrat Al Franken a 312 vote victory.
The outcome wound up having a significant impact, giving Democrats the critical 60th Senate vote they needed to block GOP filibusters. Mr. Franken's vote proved crucial in the passage of ObamaCare last December in the Senate. The next month Democrats lost their 60-vote Senate majority with the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts.
Ever since Mr. Franken was declared the victor, the conservative watchdog group Minnesota Majority has combed through records comparing lists of those who voted with criminal rap sheets. It found that at least 341 convicted felons voted in Minneapolis's Hennepin County, the state's largest, and another 52 voted illegally in St. Paul's Ramsey County, the state's second largest. Dan McGrath, head of Minnesota Majority, says that only conclusive matches were included in the group's totals. The number of felons voting in those two counties alone exceeds Mr. Franken's victory margin.
"We aren't trying to change the result of the last election. That legally can't be done," Mr. McGrath told Fox News. "We are just trying to make sure the integrity of the next election isn't compromised."
Minnesota Majority says it has been "stonewalled" by Hennepin County officials to whom it presented its findings. But in neighboring Ramsey County, Phil Carruthers of the local District Attorney's office says he takes the charges "very seriously" and found that Minnesota Majority "had done a good job in their review." His office has asked for 15 investigators to be hired to pursue the information. "So far we have charged 28 people with felonies, have 17 more under review and have 182 cases still open," he said. "And there is a good chance we may match or even exceed [Minnesota Majority's] numbers."
Minnesota Majority's Mr. McGrath says Minnesota Secretary of State Dan Ritchie, a Democrat elected in 2006 with the support of the discredited voter registration group ACORN, has been derelict in his duties. "It is the job of the secretary of state to flag felons on the voter rolls so local election workers can challenge them. In 90% of the cases, the felon records were not flagged."
One possible reason for that failure might be pure politics. Academic work by Jeff Manza and Marcus Britton of Northwestern University and Christopher Uggen of the University of Minnesota has shown that a large majority of felons routinely vote Democratic. The two academics estimated that Bill Clinton pulled 86% of the felon vote in 1992 and 93% in 1996. Statistician John Lott's own work in Washington State found that felons were 37% more likely to be registered Democrats even when accounting for race, gender, education level, religious habits, employment, age, and county of residence. No one knows for sure how the felons tagged by Minnesota Majority voted, but a thorough review of records in all of Minnesota's 87 counties seems in order. The state's voter rolls need to be cleaned up before another Coleman-Franken fiasco takes place.
by John Fund
The Wall Street Journal
Political Diary Online
Tuesday, 13 July 10