Callers question registered Minnesota voters' eligibility

  • Article by: KEVIN DUCHSCHERE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 29, 2008 - 11:30 PM

Secretary of state disavowed any link, saying calls should be reported. The conservative nonprofit Minnesota Majority defends its actions.

Minnesotans should beware intimidating phone calls about their voting practices from people purporting to be with his office, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said Wednesday.

The calls in question apparently are being made by the conservative nonprofit Minnesota Majority as part of an effort to uncover voting irregularities.

A St. Paul man received one such call Tuesday evening and contacted Ritchie's office the next day, something that others should do if they're called, Ritchie said. A recent call suggesting that a registered voter had to re-register has been referred to the Anoka County attorney's office for investigation.

Ritchie said that such calls have no connection whatsoever with his office. "Voter intimidation will not be tolerated in Minnesota," he said.

Larry Johnson got a call at his Highland Park condo at about 8 p.m. Tuesday from a woman who said she was calling about issues of concern to the Secretary of State's office. She proceeded to ask Johnson about his former residence in downtown St. Paul, where he lived three years ago.

"You know you can't vote in two places," Johnson quoted her as telling him. "I said, 'Wait a minute.' She kind of questioned my integrity. The insinuation was ... she's telling me that the secretary of state might think I might be one of these guys perpetrating voter fraud."

The woman told Johnson she worked for Jeff Davis, president of Minnesota Majority.

Davis did not respond to inquiries Wednesday, but posted a comment on the group's website responding to Ritchie's press conference by saying Minnesota Majority has been researching inconsistencies in voter rolls.

"Voters with apparent duplicate registration records have been contacted by Minnesota Majority volunteers with a simple request to confirm the accuracy of their voter registration information," Davis wrote. "We feel these false allegations [of voter intimidation] are designed to simply deflect attention away from further scrutiny of what appear to be serious irregularities with Minnesota voter registration records."

Ritchie said that the Ramsey County attorney's office and the U.S. Attorney are looking into Johnson's complaint.

Reports of possible voter intimidation should be directed to the county attorney or the Secretary of State's office at 877-600-8683, he said.

Kevin Duchschere • 612-673-4455

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