Secretary of state handles elections

Published 12:40 pm Saturday, May 29, 2010

In response to Ms. Carol Bybee’s letter published on May 22, I would like to note that the following elections safeguards are in place in Minnesota:

Making sure that people registering to vote are who they say they are

The names of all newly-registered voters are sent to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety for verification of data — including names, dates of birth, and driver’s license numbers. If there is an exact match between the voter’s registration data and DPS’s data the person is approved to vote. If there is not an exact match, the county auditor further reviews the record. If it is not possible to verify a new registration of a voter who registered by mail, the person will have to provide proof of residency before voting.

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Making sure that people are only registered once

When county auditors process voter registrations, they search the statewide voter database to see if an individual is already entered. A new record is created only when the auditor cannot find another record for that voter.

Making sure that people are voting only where they live

Voters who file new or updated voter registrations are sent nonforwardable postcards with the address of their polling place. If voters do not live where they indicated, their postcards are returned as undeliverable and their registration records are challenged.

Making sure that voters are eligible to cast a ballot

It is a felony for a person who is not a U.S. citizen or has had their right to vote revoked due to a felony conviction to register to vote or cast a ballot. Prior to state general elections, this office cross checks all registered voters against DPS data on noncitizens living in Minnesota and Department of Corrections’ data on convicted felons in Minnesota.

Minnesota’s county attorneys have the jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute voter fraud. Whenever this office receives any allegations of voter fraud, it immediately forwards the information to the appropriate county attorney.

The system worked in 2008

Minnesota’s entire electoral process was scrutinized during the 2008 U.S. Senate recount. The three-judge panel presiding over the election contest concluded unanimously that the 2008 election was conducted fairly. In its final ruling, the judges wrote unequivocally that “there was no evidence of fraud in the conduct of this election.”

Additionally, when appearing on the TV news program Almanac on Feb. 5, 2010, Fritz Knaak, a member of the Coleman legal team, stated the following:

“You know we were looking for fraud and we didn’t see it. … (The) fact is that in the current system we really haven’t been seeing widespread fraud of any sort and if it could happen anywhere, conceivably because of our relatively broad and generous standards, it would happen here. It hasn’t.”

Minnesota has a long tradition of running free and fair elections; the Office of the Secretary of State is dedicated to continuing this tradition in 2010 and beyond.

Jim Gelbmann

deputy secretary of state