Over 2,800 people who were already dead may have "voted" in last November's election in Minnesota -- an indication either of voter fraud, or of record-keeping so flawed that it leaves the state vulnerable to fraudulent ballots being cast according to a government watchdog group.
Minnesota Majority, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with several Republican supporters, is calling for a federal investigation into Minnesota's election practices.
"The secretary of state's office is now in what I interpret to be panic mode," Minnesota Majority founder Jeff Davis tells Newsmax.
According to Davis, the issue of deceased persons on the voter rolls dates back to October, when he sent a letter to the secretary of state's office alerting officials to the problem. State officials referred him to county election officials, but many of the county officials in turn referred him back to the state.
"This is the great finger-pointing exercise, 'It's their responsibility,' and "No, it's their responsibility,'" Davis says.
After the election, Minnesota Majority obtained the state's entire list of voters who cast ballots in the election. It gave the list to an outside firm that routinely conducts "death suppression" for direct mail firms.
This involved matching the voter lists – names and addresses -- with recent deaths. The process flagged over 2,800 individuals at specific addresses who, according to public records, appeared to have died prior to voting – naturally a concern to anyone worried about voter fraud.
To check the data, Minnesota Majority dispatched researchers to check on 12 of the names. They spoke to neighbors and relatives. Some neighbors refused to comment, but in five of the 12 cases, people confirmed that the individual in question had in fact passed away prior to the election.
Davis cites Minnesota statute 201.13, which directs the commissioner of health to provide Minnesota's secretary of state with a monthly report listing residents who have died.
The secretary of state is then supposed to work with county election officials to update voter rolls and notate the records of people who have died.
"If proper controls had been in place, this situation would not have occurred," Davis says.
Dated voter rolls are common to many states. But in a state where Democrat Al Franken leads Republican Sen. Norm Coleman by 312 votes out of 3 million cast, even a tiny fraction of errors or fraud could be critical.
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie's office presented precinct sign-in rosters on Wednesday that appear to support the view that no one voted on behalf of the five deceased individuals.
While the voter records indicate deceased individuals voted, the Ritchie's office states this was actually the fault of data-entry errors by county election officials.
So did someone cast ballots on behalf of individuals in Minnesota who were no longer alive? And if so, how many?
"The answer right now is we don't know," Davis says. "And given the state of the records, you can't tell one way or another. You can't tell me dead people are not voting -- because their records would certainly seem to suggest that."
Minnesota Majority has filed a lawsuit alleging that Ritchie and 25 county election officials have failed to reconcile registrations -- matching votes cast with actual people registered and living at valid addresses -- as required by law.
Davis says this casts a shadow over at least 30,000 ballots cast on Nov. 4.
Minnesota prides itself on the integrity of its elections, and Ritchie's office has pointed out that some occasional errors are unavoidable. That does not amount to evidence of voter fraud, they point out.
"They're saying precinct election people screwed up," says Davis. "But how in the world do you say with any confidence there's no voter fraud going on, which is what they're saying? Show me the evidence that's the case."
Davis tells Newsmax his organization has a "laundry list" of related concerns, including votes cast by felons, votes cast by non-citizens, and votes cast by individuals who gave addresses that do not exist, including "city parks, business developments, freeways, and empty lots."
Davis expects state officials will address the faulty record keeping, now that the issue is drawing widespread attention.
"My guess is that now that we've followed a legal suit, that they're going to be all over this. They're going to do their best to get their act together prior to going into court. Had we not filed that lawsuit, it would have been their word against ours," Davis says.
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