Chanting Points Memo: “Minnesota Poll” Has Your Delivery Of Sandbags Right Here

Yesterday, the Star Tribune “Minnesota Poll” also delivered its mid-cycle tally of support for the Voter ID Amendment.

And coming barely a week after the generally-accurate Survey USA poll showing Voter ID passing by a 2:1 margin, the Strib would have you believe…:

Slightly more than half of likely voters polled — 52 percent — want the changes built around a photo ID requirement, while 44 percent oppose them and 4 percent are undecided.

That is a far cry from the 80 percent support for photo ID in a May 2011 Minnesota Poll, when the issue was debated as a change in state law. Support among Democrats has cratered during a year marked by court battles, all-night legislative debates and charges that the GOP is attempting to suppress Democratic votes.

Republicans and independents continue to strongly back the proposal, which passed the Legislature this year without a single DFL vote.

Wow.  Sounds close!

Sort of; if you accept the validity of the numbers (and unless the DFL is headed for a blowout win, you must never accept the validity of the “Minnesota Poll’s” numbers), and every single undecided voter today voted “no”, the measure would pass in a squeaker.

But are the numbers valid?    And by “valid”, I don’t mean “did they do the math right”, I mean “did they poll a representative sample of Minnesotans?”

To find that out, you have to do something that almost nobody in the Strib’s reading audience does; look at the partisan breakdown of the survey’s respondents.  Which is in a link buried in the middle of a sidebar, between the main article and the cloud of ads and clutter to the right of the page, far-removed from the headline and the lede graf.  Which takes you to a page that notes (with emphasis added):

• The self-identified party affiliation of the random sample is: 41 percent Democrat, 28 percent Republican and 31 percent independent or other.

That’s right – as with the Marriage Amendment numbers we looked at this morning (it’s the same survey), the Strib wants you to believe…

…well, no.  I’m not sure they “want” anyone to believe anything.  I’m sure they want people to read the headling and the “almost tied!” lede, and not dig too far into the numbers.

It’s part of the Democrat’s “Low-Information Voters” campaign; focus on voters who don’t dig for facts, who accept what the media tells them, who vote based on the last chanting point they heard.

Fearless prediction:  On November 4, the Strib will release a “Minnesota Poll” that shows the Voter ID Amendment slightly behind, using a partisan breakdown with an absurdly high number of DFLers.   It’ll be done as a sort of positive bandwagon effect – to make DFLers feel there’s a point to come out and vote against the Voter ID Amendment (and for Obama, Klobuchar, and the rest of the DFL slate, natch).

And it will be a complete lie.  Voter ID will pass by 20 points, and this cycle of polling will disappear down the media memory hole like all the rest of them.

Question:  Given that its entire purpose seems to be to build DFL bandwagons and discourage conservative voters, when do we start calling the “Minnesota Poll” what it seems to be – a form of vote suppression?

Chanting Points Memo: Nothing Here But Us Extremists

I was out of town last week during Governor Dayton’s frankly weird performance, referring to supporters of the “Right To Work” amendment as “Extreme”.

More on that – it ties in closely with my piece on the DFL’s new PR effort to flood the state with unsupportable memes on wedge issues designed to fool the uninformed and gullible – later this week.

It’s just interesting to note how many “extremists” there are out there, according this SurveyUSA poll covering Minnesotans’ attitudes on the Gay Marriage, Right To Work and Voter ID amendments seem to show that a majority of Minnesotans are, by Governor Dayton’s self-indulgent standard, “Extremists”.

Let’s go through the numbers one issue at a time:

Marriage Amendment

This is the weakest of the bunch so far; it’s winning by 47-39, and over the top in most of the cross tabs (other than 18-34 year olds, cell phone users, Democrats, Liberals and people making over $80K a year).

This is in line – and maybe a little better – than the results I found in the fall of 2010, when a Lawrence Poll showed that Minnesotans’ preferences swung strongly to Tom Emmer when they were clear that Emmer supported referenda or legislative rulings on the issue, while Dayton and Horner both supported legislating the issue from the bench.

The problem is that these numbers aren’t nearly good enough to pass the bill, given one quirk in Minnesota’s law when voting on constitutional amendments; blank votes are counted as “no” votes.  Everyone who supports an amendment must vote affirmatively “yes”.

So let’s assume the numbers in this poll’s “Not Sures” – 4% overall – break evenly between Yes and No on election day, bringing the actual results to 49-41 in favor; then “Not Votes” stay on the sidelines, becoming “No” votes, making the final vote a bare 51-49 against.  That’s not counting “Ritchie Votes”: the dead, people being vouched into multiple districts, people who aren’t legally entitled to vote, and the like.

Even without that, the measure loses by default. By this count, the Marriage Amendment needs to arf up at least three more points – five as insurance against “Ritchie Votes”.

With a state this polarized, it’s a tall order.

Right To Work

Minnesota is much less polarized here – and it shows.  Governor Dayton’s memes on the subject have been more fact-free and desperate than usual – “right to work states have lower wages!”, he declared, ignoring the other context (closed shop states tend to be more urban, coastal and have much higher costs of living as well as wages) – showing how hard the DFL is going to have to dig for votes on this issue.

“Right To Work” leads 55-24% overall.  It leads in every single cross tab – the narrowest is 35-32 among identified liberals.  Bad news for the DFL – it leads among women even more than among men; more among the young than the old;

More importantly?   Even if you take the 12% “not sure” vote and split it evenly among “Yes”, “No” and “Not Voting” , the numbers become 59-28-13, which really means 59-41 (remember, blank votes become “No”, as noted above).  Even if every undecided voter decides to side with the unions – in other words, the hopelessly unrealistic breaks, things about as likely as me getting a third date with Amy Adams – or just sit the issue out, the issue ends up at 55-45.

It’ll take a lot of “Ritchie Votes” to beat “the extremists” on this issue.

Photo ID

Perhaps the best news of the poll is that the left’s idiot memes about Voter ID – “it disenfranchises the poor, the elderly and college students – are falling not so much on deaf ears, but ears that mock their idiocy.

During the 2010 campaign, the meme of the right was that Voter ID had 2-1 support in Minnesota.  The SUSA poll shows it’s actually 3-1 with a bullet; the measure currently leads 70-23.

The cross tabs?  Again – the measure is more popular among women than men (73% of women favor it, vs. 66% of men); more among younger voters, with a 77-20 lead among 35-49 year old voters); more among the educated (71-24 among college grads ys 63-23 among high school grads); about evenly across all income bands; even by 69-24 in the Twin Cities.

Most significantly?  Only 4% of Minnesotans are undecided on the subject, and 4% more claimed they’ll “not vote” on the issue.  Even if every single undecided voter is convinced to vote against the issue or sit it out, the measure passes 70-31%.

Even Mark Ritchie will have a hard time rigging this one.

Takeaways

Caveat up front; the conclusions below presume the SUSA poll is accurate.  The poll is of registered voters, rather than likely voters, which is inherently less accurate on the one hand, but traditionally skews things to the left on the other hand; for purposes of the conclusions below, I’ll presume those two factors roughly cancel each other out.

GOP legislative candidates need to closely align themselves with the Right To Work and Photo ID issues.  They need to hammer on their support for Right to Work and Voter ID, and the positive things that both bring to this state – more jobs, and an election system with actual integrity (although Voter ID is only one of many reforms needed).

The Marriage Amendment strikes me as a loser for GOP candidates – not because it’s off the ideological beam (although as a libertarian conservative, I’m less enthusiastic about it than some Republicans), but because presuming that this poll is accurate, candidates will spend more time and effort supporting the amendment than being supported by it.  By tying themselves to amendments that seem likely to pass overwhelmingly and which show the deep wedge between the DFL and the GOP, on issues where the DFL is both wrong and diametrically opposed to a crushing majority of Minnesotans, the GOP wins free votes; the Marriage Amendment will cost time and effort to prop up at the polls.  Not to say the votes can’t be found, but it’s going to take a lot of time and effort – which is the job of the various pro-marriage groups, not candidates.

The other takeaway, in light of the Governor’s prate and gabble on the subject(s)?  In every case, with all three of these amendments, the conservative, “extreme” position is the mainstream.

But we knew that.

See more on the subject from Ed Morrissey.

UPDATE: Grand Jury In Crow Wing County

As I noted earlier today, the Crow Wing County Attorney’s office is empaneling a grand jury starting next Tuesday.

I have learned since then from a source close to the case that the Crow Wing County Attorney has evidence that four residents of the Clark Lake chain of group homes in the Brainerd Lakes area, whose names were found on the county’s absentee voter list for the 2010 election,  had court orders ruling them ineligible to vote.

More tomorrow.

Grand Jury In Crow Wing County

According to the Brainerd Dispatch, a grand jury is being empaneled in Crow Wing County next Tuesday. 

Crow Wing County Attorney Don Ryan on Tuesday confirmed a petition to convene the grand jury was filed.

However, Ryan is prohibited by law from saying what the grand jury is being called to consider. By law, what transpires in the grand jury chamber is kept secret.

However, the Dispatch notes that Monty Jensen has been subpoenaed to testify:

In the fall of 2010, Jensen said he was at the courthouse when residents of a group home, who were accompanied by staff members, were voting. At the time, Jensen said what he witnessed crossed the line of proper voter assistance and amounted to the manipulation and undue influence of vulnerable adults.

We covered this last November, in what was one of the highest-traffic stories this blog has ever covered; Jensen, in a series of videos that this blog helped go viral, claimed to have seen residents of a group of group homes being assisted with their voting in a manner that allegedly violates state law.

Crow Wing County Attorney Don Ryan initially declined to pursue much of an investigation – the law allows the county attorney a lot of discretion in such matters.  Sources close to the story, however, indicate that the investigation carried out by the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Department was “a sham”, which seemed to focus more on Monty Jensen’s bona fides than on the charges he’d made; while Jensen’s father (from whom Monty Jensen had long been estranged) was interviewed extensively, while more than one witness to the actual alleged incident went allegedly uninterviewed.

Since last winter, of course, more evidence has surfaced; at least one resident who had not been ruled incompetent to vote and stated no interest in voting turned up on the absentee voter rolls - not “illegal”, perhaps, but very possibly exploitation of a vulnerable adult.

It is not currently publicly known whether further evidence has prompted Ryan’s action.

In Minnesota, a first-degree murder charge with a life sentence may only come from a grand jury indictment. Election law issues may also be brought to the grand jury. A prosecutor may present factual information to see if there is enough to justify proceeding forward with an indictment in a bank robbery, for instance.

This represents a major reversal on the Crow Wing County Attorney’s part.  As such, a Grand Jury makes sense; while some indictments (like First Degree Murder) require grand jury findings, others are brought to give a County Attorney cover, as if to say “the indictment wasn’t my call; it was the Grand Jury’s decision”.

Exploitation

Last year, around election day, I posted a piece of video from Crow Wing County.  Monty Jensen, a disabled veteran, recounted seeing a group of disabled people being, he alleges, coached through the process of voting (not illegal), and, Jensen claimed, having their ballots filled out for them.  Which is not illegal if it involves assisting a voter with exercising their wishes re their own legal franchise – nobody, least of all Jensen, has ever argued this.

But it is illegal if it’s a case of glorified ballot stuffing – say, if someone “assists” someone who is mentally-incompetent and not legally allowed to vote.

Now, as we saw a while ago, Minnesota law may be a bit ambiguous about how guardianship affects someone’s franchise.

But when we last looked at this story, we met Jim Stene, a resident of the Clark Lake Group Home in Brainerd.   And according to his father, Al Stene, there is nothing ambiguous about the fact that Jim should not be voting.

Now Fox News’ Eric Shawn is on the story - and in the report, it seems there’s nothing ambiguous to Al Stene about his son’s state:

Minnesota resident Jim Stene voted last November — and thought he was casting his ballot for President Gerald Ford.

“He was exploited, plain and simple. He was exploited,” his father, Alan Stene, charges. “This is a moral and ethical issue.”

Jim Stene, 35, suffers from anoxic encephalopathy, severe brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain. He has lived with the condition since 1987, when, as a 12-year-old boy, he jumped into a river to save the life of his drowning sister, Heather.

Jim Stene’s story is tragic enough.

Stene had spent the last 15 years living in a group home in Brainerd, Minn. He and other residents of the home were taken to the Crow Wing County auditor’s office on Oct. 29 to vote by absentee ballot. Minnesota is among the states that offer early voting by absentee ballot days before Election Day.

In an affidavit, Stene’s father charges that “a voter crime was committed … because James is mentally incompetent and is very coachable.”

He fears his son, and others like him across the country, could be used to swing elections.

“They are a forgotten member of our society, I think, to where people can exploit them because nobody really knows what goes on behind the scenes,” Alan Stene said.

“I felt that he was used as a pawn.”

Shawn reportedly spent quite a bit of time with Jim Stene over a weekend in Brainerd in February.  I’ve added emphasis:

Fox News met Stene at a private residence, with his sister beside him, and asked him about voting. While his words came slowly, he clearly understood the conversation, smiling and trying to do his best to answer. When asked who he voted for, he answered quietly, “Ford.” Gerald Ford? Stene nodded in the affirmative.

He was unable to name the candidates or any current elected officials, and he said a worker at the group home where he lived told him for whom to vote. They didn’t move his hand or mark it for him, he said, “just told me who to vote for.” He “did not have a clue” about the person he voted for. And when asked to identify the current president, he said, “Bush, I think.”

The owner of the chain of group homes where Stene lived denies the charges:

“Did Clark Lake (Group Home), on a whim, decide to take this person and sneak them down to the poll? Absolutely not. It’s so ridiculous, it’s absurd,” [Lynn Peterson, owner of the Clark Lake Group Homes where Stene lived] told Fox News.

“As a provider, what did I do? I gave him a ride to the polls and I gave him a ride home.” Peterson says Stene and several others voted in full view of local county election workers, and he affirmed that he and his staff were supporting the legal right of their residents to cast a ballot, the same as people without disabilities.

“As a provider, my job is to provide assistance to handicapped people if they choose to vote,” said Peterson. “At no time were they to be assisted in how to vote.”

Stene – and Monty Jensen, and his girlfriend – claim otherwise.  Those claims would seem to warrant an investigation…

…which was done, more or less.  The Crow Wing County Sheriff’s department investigated the claims – in a line of questioning that led them to talk with Monty Jensen’s estranged father, with whom Jensen hasn’t spoken in years and who was utterly unconnected to the case, but somehow did not lead them to talk with Monty Jensen’s girlfriend.

[Peterson] added that he thinks a care provider should be “somebody that is going to be an advocate, a strong advocate for the people with a disability that have the ability to participate with the voting process or any other process in the community.”

But Stene’s family disagrees.

“Jim is not capable of making those type of decisions, to know what the candidates are and what the issues are,” his father said. And his sister said she “could not believe this was even an issue” and that he was taken to vote.

As she sat next to her sibling who saved her life, tears welled up.

“I just don’t think that he is competent enough,” she said. “I mean, he is my brother and I love him very, very much, and that’s why I personally go vote.”

She also said she “is glad it has gotten this far because there will be more recognition for other people, and for my brother. He has the right for who he wants to vote for, but I honestly don’t think he could vote.” Peterson says Jim Stene wanted to vote. Stene told Fox News he was not asked if he wanted to vote.

In Minnesota, only a judge can determine if a person is incompetent to vote and take away that right. That has not happened in Stene’s case.

So the question is not “was Stene disenfranchised”; the question is “was he exploited by the staff at his group home?”

Read the rest of Shawn’s story.

Crow Wing County: Developments

In the wake of last Tuesday’s Crow Wing County Commission meeting, the Brainerd Dispatch has the latest on the story.

If you recall the video I ran yesterday, showing Monty Jensen, Ron Kaus and Al and Jim Stene speaking in front of the Commission, you’ll remember the powerful allegation that the staff at the group home (run by the Clark Lake group of group homes) had fraudulently gotten Jim Stene to vote; Stene himself – who suffered serious brain injuries in a near-drowning incident when he was 12 -alleged that the group home staff had coached his vote.

County Attorney Ryan was un-thrilled by this:

At the Tuesday meeting, Ryan took issue with Stene’s statements, saying Stene misrepresented their conversations when speaking to the board.

Ryan said when he sat down and spoke to James “he personally informed me he did want to vote not that someone made him to vote. …

Which will be an interesting he-said/he-said to work through.

But if – as the Minnesota Freedom Council has alleged – Jim Stene has been judged mentally incompetent to vote, and his name is on the absentee voter roll, then there’s a legal issue right there.

And even County Attorney Ryan agrees there’s some smoke (I’ll add emphasis):

“I think it’s a bad thing to come in and try to create an issue in an open forum setting and when it will be televised,” Ryan said. “There currently is an investigation pending into the exploitation of a vulnerable adult.”

In December, Ryan reported his office did not find evidence to substantiate a Crow Wing Township resident’s claim of voter fraud. On Nov. 1, Montgomery Jensen of Crow Wing Township filed a complaint with Ryan’s office.

I’m awaiting an update on when Fox will broadcast Eric Shawn’s report on the voter fraud allegations.

Crow Wing County: Update

I’ve been pretty quiet about the Crow Wing County story that I covered last fall, around election-day.  Part of it has been that I’ve been too swamped with family and new job stuff to spend a lot of time trying to track down county officials and everyone else involved with the story. And part of it is that there have been other developments that just plain needed time to work out.

Which isn’t to say I haven’t done a little digging around.  I just haven’t written about it a lot.

In the original videos, taken the Saturday before election day, Monty Jensen – a disabled Army veteran who vigorously disclaims any history of  significant political activism – recounted his story; he and his girlfriend went to the Crow Wing County Courthouse to get absentee ballots (they both work and go to school in the Twin Cities, and wouldn’t be able to vote on election day).  They claimed to have seen a group of mentally-handicapped group home residents being herded through the Crow Wing County courthouse, and to have seen the group home’s staffers filling out the clients’ ballots for them – a clear violation of state law.

Jensen filed an affadavit on Election Day with Crow Wing County attorney Don Ryan.  The County Sheriff’s office carried out an investigation.  Ryan declined to prosecute; a source in the county courthouse speaking off the record said that Ryan acted under the discretion that Minnesota Statute 201.275 grants him.  There are questions about both the discretion – Ron Kaus is demanding a special prosecutor – and the investigation, which went as far as to interrogate Monty Jensen’s long-estranged father, but did not interview the second witness to the original incident, Jensen’s girlfriend.

When the story came out, there were three primary responses from the media and leftyblogs (other than the  usual “balderdash, our election system is the best in the nation hic best in the nation hic best in the nation…”):

  1. The Minnesota GOP is trying to disenfranchise the disabled!”:  This was an odd strawman; not only is Monty Jensen himself disabled, he’s restated endlessly that his only concern is the exploitation of the disabled; the use of the disabled as warm bodies to cast other peoples’ votes.  Which, Jensen has steadfastly claimed, was his singular concern.  Notwithstanding, Lynn Peterson – owner of the Clark Lake group of group homes, from which the residents in question allegedly came – went on a media spree, vigorously upholding the right of disabled people who have not been declared incompetent to vote, a right that nobody involved in this case has questioned in any way.
  2. Monty Jenson is a liar!“: Someone needs to tell Crow Wing County Attorney Don Ryan, who told a Crow Wing County Commission meeting in December that Jensen’s concerns were valid, and the sort of thing a good citizen should do.
  3. “The times just don’t add up!“:  There’s no way that Jensen’s complaint could be legitimate, say some, because the times in the various accounts – Jensen’s and the management at Clark Lake – don’t jibe.   But all it will take to scupper that claim is one Clark Lake resident to have been registered to vote, who had been declared incompetent.

And that resident has materialized.  James Stene, a man who suffered serious brain trauma after a near-drowning incident while he was trying to rescue his sister, and who has been judged legally incompetent – claims to have been dragged through the voting process by his staff member.  And he – and his father, Al – made the claim at last night’s Crow Wing County Commission meeting:

There are, of course, lots of new developments to this story.

Eric Shawn of Fox News was in Brainerd over the weekend shooting a story about the allegations of voting fraud in Crow Wing County this past election (previous stories here; the first in the series was this post).  The piece should air sometime in the next 3-4 days.

And we’ll be having Monty Jensen, Al Stene and Ron Kaus of the Minnesota Freedom Council on the Northern Alliance Radio Network this Saturday at 2PM.  Hope you can tune in.

CORRECTIONS: Stene, not Steen.  And I had originally listed Ryan in one place as a Crow Wing County Commissioner; that’s been corrected as well.

Crow Wing County: Questions Unanswered

The day before this past election, I linked to a piece of video of a man – Monty Jensen, a Brainerd resident, disabled Army veteran, and government worker – who claimed to have witnessed what appeared at the very least to have  been some odd behavior – and at most appeared to be voter fraud.

The original video is here.   The story brought this blog among the biggest surges of traffic it has ever had.

The story seems to have stalled, for the moment – partly because it’s been on a lot of peoples’ back burners, and partly because…

…well, we’ll get back to that.

As noted in this space back in November, Monty Jensen filed an affadavit – sworn under oath to be truthful, under penalty of a potential charge of perjury – with Crow Wing County attorney Donald F. Ryan, on November 1 – the day before election day.  His affadavit recited what he’d seen, pretty much as he related the story to me – which is as concise a summary of what Jensen alleges as there is.  Go and read it and refresh your memory.

And for the next six weeks, not a whole lot happened.  The Crow Wing County Sheriff’s office did an investigation;  in due course, County Attorney Ryan said that there was no evidence of voter fraud.

And that was pretty much that.

Well, at least as far as official channels in Crow Wing County were concerned, so far.

But that’s not the entire story.

On December 17 – after the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office investigation had wrapped – the Minnesota Freedom Council sent a letter to then-representative Dan Severson, long-time Minnesota House rep for the area and recently defeated in a bid to replace Mark Ritchie as Secretary of State.

The crux of the letter was a list of 13 questions (any typos are my fault):

Questions that remain unanswered:

1. Were all parties interviewed for testimony?  Clearly this is not the case since no-one approached the other eyewitness (Mr. Jensen’s girlfriend).  How can this be a “complete” investigation?

2. Was the party or parties involved with the possible voter fraud positively identified by the two eyewitnesses?  If not, how can anyone be sure that the Crow Wing County Sheriff investigators are talking to the same suspect?  We have two conflicting testimonies; one says she was simply “filling in ovals where there were dots” on the ballot.  The other said the disabled voter didn’t say in the voting booth but a “few seconds” and never had a pencil or pen in hand and didn’t have time to talk to their assistant about their voting preferences.  Maybe there are two different people.  How do we know?

3. Why was there no official report that has been put forth stating the reasons for dismissal with the findings of fact that can be confirmed or contested?

4. Of the statements that were taken, were affidavits filed for each of those statement under penalty of perjury?

5. Was a list compiled of all the individuals who voted under this complaint, and were they identified as being eligible to vote?  (ie. did any of them have their voting rights revoked under court order ruling them “vulnerable adults”, and were they registered to vote in the district?)

6. Since this was four days prior to election day and Minnesota does not have early voting for elections, what statute was used to allow this early voting, and were any of the individuals that voted vouched for by any resident managers?  Many may have residency outside their group home (this is only acceptable on election day (MN statute 201.061 Subd 3)

7. Was it determined how may voters were helped by this group home workers?  Minnesota statute 204C.15 Assistance to Vot3rs states that “no person who assists another voter as provided in the preceding sentence shall mark the ballots of more than three voters at one election”.

8. Were there election judges present at the Crow Wing County Auditor Office?  Voters who need assistance may request aid from two election judges who are members of different major political parties.  All voters who need assistance should have this option availble.

9. Why hasn’t Mr. Jensen been asked to identify the Crow Wing County Auditor employee who stated “you don’t know the half of it, this was the fourth group today”.

10. When we asked (county auditor) Deb Erickson if she know if there were any disabled people or residents from group homes voting late on Friday October 29th, she said she didn’t know.  Why then did Deb Erickson contact Jared Peterson, on Monday November 1 after [Monty Jensen's] affidavit was filed?  (According to KSAX article).  Seeing that the Auditor is not an “investigator”, this opens up a question of conspiracy.

11. Why were there two investigators assigned to the case interviewing Mr. Jensen’s estranged father?  Were they investigating Montgomery Jensen?  They had time to send investigators to interview someone who has no relationship to the case, but not the other eyewitness?

12 Under MN Statute 201.175, a grand jury must be called to present the evidence and let the grand jury determine whether ot proceed [with indictments].  Why wasn’t one called?  Did the Crow Wing County Attonrey usurp the power of the grand jury by ruling on his own?  Or did the Crow Wing County Attorney purposely avoid gathering enough evidence (including interviewing the other eyewitness) to force the calling of a grand jury?

13. There conflicting testimony by the eyewitnesses.  Crow Wing County Attorney said there is “no evidence” of voter fraud.  If two credible eyewitnesses can not convict someone guilty of voter fraud then how could anyone ever be convicted without an outright confession?  You cannot bring cameras or recording equipment and there is no one there at the county monitoring for abnormalities.

It is our opinion that this investigation brought forth even more questions than it answered in trying to resolve legitimate concerns in the voter fraud case involving the disabled.

If the worker was identified as stated by the County Attorney as the person in teh complaint, was that person compelled to submit an affidavit?   If she did and the statements are of conflicting facts (ie. “the person walked away and was pulled back to the booth only to wander away again at which time the worker filled out the ballot and put it into his hand” vs. “they told me the answers to the questions and I filled in the oval for them”. ) then the issue is to be forwarded to a Grand Jury for investigation.  If she did complete an affidavit then th issue should be forwarded to the Grand Jury to complete the in depth investigation by evenly weighted statements of fact.  It is not the County Attorney’s prerogative to simply dismiss the issue as not having merit.  Arbitration of issues of this importance are determined by a group of peer,s not that of an elected [official].

In short, the matters in question have not been adequately addressed, nor has a written report been forthcoming.  The gravity of the charges would dictate that not only is further investigation required nd should be forwarded to a Grand Jury, but that the State Attorney General’s Office should be advised in the matter and an opinion sought on whether Crow Wing County Attorney Mr. Ryan has violated statute by “refusing or intentionally failing to faithfully perform” his duties as County Attorney.v>Your immediate action is requested.

The questions raised in the letter make a useful framework for addressing the rest of this story.   I’ll be addressing one or two of these questions a week for the next couple of weeks.

At least one other Twin Cities reporter is working on this story.  It’s going to be an interesting week or two.

One Day At The Crow Wing County Courthouse, Part II

When we left Monty Jensen, it was Friday, October 29.  He’d just seen a scene that disturbed him; supervisors from a Brainerd-area group home voting for their charges who, while they had the legal right to vote, didn’t seem to have much idea where they were or what they were doing (which, if I were much less sober and reflective than I am these days, I would say “makes them a perfect DFL constituency”.  But I am more sober and reflective these days).

Jensen chewed on what he’d seen overnight – and then took a shot in the dark.

“I called George Burton”, he says, referring to the Constitution Party candidate for Jim Oberstar’s seat.   Burton got Jensen in touch with the Minnesota Freedom Council, one of a small network of grassroots groups that is scrutinizing Minnesota’s election system.

Acting on their advice, Jensen started to work.  “About 10:30 Saturday morning (October 30), I looked up Don Ryan, the Crow Wing County attorney, in the phone book.   I tried him a couple of times, with no answer. ”

“Then I tried Ron Kaus, at the Minnesota Freedom Council.  I’d never heard of him in my life.  I spoke with him – and he got right on it.  They wanted all the information – and he asked me to meet at the courthouse and tell him  how everything went down.  When we got there, he asked me if he could record the conversation.  We didn’t talk for five minutes before the recording started; I told my story”.

Here’s the story, for those who missed it the first time:
Here’s part I of the video…:

…along with Part II…:

…and Part III.

Jensen recalls “We went through and did the video.  I was kinda on the hot seat.  And from there, we  started trying to do the investigation”.  He got some advice from Kaus;  “If you want this investigated, you need to do it as an affadavit; the complaint form will just get filed away”. 

So Jensen spent the weekend writing the complaint.  On Monday morning, he was ready to turn it in.

“On Monday morning, I brought four copies in.  The auditor notarized them, and kept one”.  Then, Jensen went to the County Attorney’s office.  “Being that it was Monday before election day…I handed it to him personally.  He said he didn’t know what he could do with the election the next day, so all the votes would count.  But he said they’d follow up with the investigation.”

Later on, Jensen said the County Attorney’s office called to say the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s office had assigned an investigator.  On Thursday, November 4 – two days after the election – Jensen met with that investigator for about 90 minutes.  “He stated that they’d been speaking with certain group homes, had a list of ballots turned in during the time frame, and had everything to back up the story”.

And that, for the most part, was the last Monty Jensen has heard from Crow Wing County.

———-

Toward the end of our conversation, Jensen reflected.  “The other day, I was talking with my girlfriend.  I asked “Am I crazy, or is something going on here?”

We’ll get the girlfriend’s answer straight from her, later this week.

One Day At The Crow Wing County Courthouse

Last week – just before the election – the nation got a look at about twenty minutes of video depicting a group of citizens questioning officials from Crow Wing County – think Brainerd – about an apparent incident of ballot-stuffing.

The video left more questions than it answered.  Who were these people?  What did they see?

The media has touched on the story – and largely asked the really important questions, like “who did the people in the video vote for?”.  We’ll come back to that.

I figured it was time to talk with the actual people involved.

The weekend before election day, Monty Jensen of Brainerd took his girlfriend to the Crow Wing County courthouse to vote in person with an absentee ballot.  He had to take a partial day of vacation to do it; he commutes from Brainerd to the Twin Cities every day to work. His girlfriend commutes with him; she’s in pharmacy school at the U of M in Minneapolis.  “I’m on the road fifteen hours a day”, he points out.  So taking the time out to vote was a bit of an effort.

A little after 4:30 on Friday, October 29, Jensen and his girlfriend walked into the Crow Wing County Courthouse, and went upstairs to the Auditor’s office.  “It was full of people”, Jensen recalls.  They submitted their applications to the auditor, and took a seat to wait their turn to vote. .

“We waited for about fifteen minutes”, Jensen said, “and I noticed there were a lot of people there who seemed to have issues”; they were disabled.  “I didn’t think anything of that”, Jensen added.  

We’ll come back to that later in the story.

There appeared to be a dozen, maybe fifteen handicapped people, and perhaps three supervisors. 

“But what alarmed me”, said Jensen, “was, I’m looking across at a poll booth, and I see a staffer walk over with an individual who’s mentally handicapped, put down ballot w/pen.  The guy walked away from the booth.  She called him back over – you could tell by her body language she was getting impatient, and the guy wouldn’t come back.  So she filled out his ballot.  Then she retrieved hjim, and had him turn in his ballot.”

Jensen continued “So I went “what the hell?”  I couldn’t[ believe she filled out the guy's ballot!"

"As I'm voting, the woman was 2 booths down with another invividual.  She was talking like he's a child.  Telling him who he should vote for.  I think "This isn't right".   Going right down line, candidate by candidate. I look over - her hand was on the pencil."  Jensen told me he overheard him instructing the man to vote a straight DFL ticket; "it was DFL candiates - Dayton, Oberstar, Taylor Stevens, Ward, right down the ballot, every candidate."

Jensen said he asked the woman what she was doing. "She grabbed him, went across the room to other station, and continued filling out the ballot.  I've seen her dictate two people's votes.  My perception is these people [the group of voters] don’t know where they’re at”.

Jensen became concerned.  “I went to counter and asked the county worker – “Is this legal?” 

Jensen stopped for a moment, and pointed out that he knows that it’s perfectly legal for people to help people to vote.  “I’m a disabled veteran.  I support the rights of the disabled”.

But, he added,  ”this was more than “assistance”.

He went to a county worker, and asked if she was aware of what was going on.  “She says “Well, yeah”", Jensen continued.  “She seemed nervous. Eventually she said  ”You don’t know the half of it.  This is the fourth group we’ve had today”. 

Jensen pointed out that his girlfriend witnessed this statement.  I’ll be talking with her shortly.

Jensen was so upset by this point that he left the courthouse.  “I didn’t really know what to do”. 

That would come later.

More later this week.

A Look At The Ballot Stuffing Party

Remember this video, from just before the election?

Here’s part I of the video…:

…along with Part II…:

…and Part III.

In the video, Monty Jensen of Brainerd describes what he believes to be an act of egregious vote fraud at the Crow Wing County Court House.

I had a long conversation with Jensen last night. I’ll be blogging about that, as well as some of the other principals in this story, starting tomorrow in Shot In The Dark.

Welcome To Chicago

And it’s time for the first allegation of election fraud.

On Friday, October 30, 2010, a member of the Minnesota Freedom Council witnessed apparent voter fraud occurring at the Crow Wing County Courthouse in Brainerd, Minnesota. Upwards of 100 residents from a local group home for mentally disadvantaged individuals were brought into the County Courthouse to cast absentee ballots. The witness reported that supervisors were telling voters to cast a straight Democratic ticket. There was even a report of a voter prematurely leaving the voting both and a supervisor casting the ballot for the voter. Essentially, the people in-charge were taking advantage of the mentally disabled in order to bolster the vote for their candidates of choice. These individuals involved can be charged with a felony under Minnesota election laws.

Here’s part I of the video…:

…along with Part II…:

…and Part III.

Only legal voters should have the right to vote.

This deserves an investigation.

If a democracy can’t trust its democratic institutions, is it a democracy at all?

Watch – some nutslap leftyblogger will call that “voter intimidation”.

UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers!

Voter fraud is a touchy issue in Minnesota.  The powers that be constantly tell us we have the most incorruptible election system in the country – but not one in 10,000 Minnesotans could explain to you correctly how the 2008 Senate election went from a 200-vote win for Norm Coleman to a 300 vote win for Al Franken.  The Minnesota Majority has found hundreds of ambiguous registrations that led to scads of investigations that have led to dozens of convictions for voter fraud so far, in two of our 87 counties.  And our Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie, is a former “community activist” whose 2006 campaign to get elected was bankrolled in part by George Soros’ effort to take SecState offices nationwide.

So yeah, this is serious business.

And let me make sure we give credit where it’s due; the video came from “Election Integrity Watch“.  We need to run down some facts, here – but it deserves investigation.