Voting is the bedrock of our democracy. We exercise this right by selecting our representatives at nearly all levels of government, an action that dates to the very beginnings of our great republic.
The integrity of this action is protected by our neighbors, friends and fellow community members who serve as election judges. Our system protects our elections from voter fraud by adhering to a strict, clear system of voter registration and allowable vouching.
To register to vote in Minnesota, one must provide one of the following: a Minnesota driver’s license; a Minnesota identification card number; or the last four numbers of your Social Security number. Voters can also register with approved photo ID, such as a U.S. passport or U.S. military ID. Further, a utility bill showing the person’s name, address and the fact they’ve resided at that location within 30 days of the election will suffice if other identifying documents are in order.
Vouching is allowed on Election Day, but only by a registered voter who must sign an oath confirming the new voter’s address. Any registered voter in that specific precinct can vouch for an Election Day registrant/voter in the precinct. They must have personal knowledge and sign an oath confirming the person’s address in the precinct. It is one of the responsibilities of these precinct’s election judges to ensure that the person vouching is valid. One exception of who can serve as a voucher — if someone does Election Day registration and uses a voucher as his/her proof of residence, that person cannot vouch for someone else. Election judges from both parties work with the head election judge to ensure that vouching is done correctly avoiding election fraud.
The maximum number of voters one person can vouch for is eight. In the 2018 general election, Carver County had 3,571 voters register on Election Day. Of those, only 127 used vouchers to register, or roughly 3.5%.
Of the 127 voters registering on Election Day using vouchers, 115 were “1-for-1” vouchers, meaning one registered voter vouched for one voter registering on Election Day. Six of the vouchers were used for two people. According to county election officials, most, if not all, of the vouchers used for two people were for spouses/relatives (husband and wife, parent and adult child). There is one exception to the eight people per one registered voter rule, pertaining to nursing homes. This didn’t happen in the 2018 general election in our county.
In Carver County specifically, we have a team of dedicated election judges and professional staff from our cities and the county that safeguard our elections’ integrity. The county had the second-highest voter turnout in the state, which is indicative of our political involvement. Despite the high turnout, we were still the first county in Minnesota to report our results to the Secretary of State. The county recently invested in a new voting system. It allows access for everyone, complies with the latest federal voting system guidelines, and is easy for election officials to operate.
As part of the county’s legislative agenda, it supports a new state law that voters can place absentee ballots directly into the ballot box 19 days before the election, instead of the current seven days. This expanded time period is a logical timeframe to begin “direct” absentee voting because it starts right after the time period for registering to vote before an election ends.
“No excuse” absentee voting in Minnesota is becoming increasingly popular with voters and county election officials. The increased convenience for voters to choose the date and time they want to vote has significantly increased the number of absentee voters in Carver County. For example, the previous Carver County record for absentee voting in a primary was 276 in the 2010 election. For our 2018 primary, we had 1,246 absentee voters, an increase of 4.5 times! Supporting this legislation allows for more voting efficiency.
VOTER FRAUD MYTH
It is not fraudulent voters undermining Minnesota elections — rather, it is the myth of voter fraud used to legislate election rules that restricts full and equal voting rights.
Strategies to discourage voting by social and/or economic status and race is not a Carver County value. Major voter fraud is a myth used to propose rules to prevent supposed fraudulent votes cast by foreigners, non-citizens, immigrants, felons and imposters — it is simply not true. Mythical threats that encourage social prejudices are used to make restrictions seem reasonable when they are thinly disguised voter suppression strategies.
In a recent claim made in a Chaska Herald letter to the editor, the author stated there were tens of thousands of unknown voters in one Minnesota election — this is, quite frankly, not possible.
President George W. Bush’s Justice Department launched a program to search for large, wholesale voter fraud. The program covered two federal election cycles where only 26 people were convicted or pled guilty to illegal registration or voting. There were nearly 200 million votes cast in those two federal elections, yielding a voter-fraud rate of 0.00000132 percent of all votes cast.
The Washington Post conducted a systematic search of news sources for cases of voter impersonation in the 2016 election and found four invalid votes out of 136 million votes cast. Similarly, a statistical analysis by political scientists at Dartmouth College of 2016 county-level voting patterns found no evidence that could support anything like three to five million illegal votes were cast in the 2016 election.
I have great confidence in the Carver County staff that operate our elections, and in our county’s election judges. These folks are our neighbors, friends, and attend our churches. They do not sell out to back-room partisan party bosses for a preferred election outcome. It is no secret that all Carver County recounts have demonstrated a high degree of election integrity.
As we move toward primaries and the 2020 general election, please ignore the narrative that massive voter fraud exists. It is simply a myth.