Mohamud Noor | Star Tribune photo
by Steve Timmer
Jun 29, 2014, 1:30 PM

Allegations of voting irregularities in HD60B

A huge flap has arisen in House District 60B over a large number — apparently over 140 — of voter registrations that listed a post office box drop, the Cedar Mailbox Center, as the registrant’s mailing address.

You will remember that HD60B is the legislative district that features the primary contest between incumbent Phyllis Kahn and challenger Mohamud Noor.

KSTP apparently aired the story on Friday evening — I didn’t see it — but here is a web version and a link to the teevee story.

If you read the story at the link, and the statement from the Noor campaign in it, you’ll see that the campaign has mounted a large GOTV effort, including absentee voters. There were buses taking voters to city hall to vote early on Friday.

Somewhat oddly, the campaign claims it conducted no voter registration drives, because, according to it, East African participation is high anyway. This seems like a stretch to me (that no registration drives took place; that would border on incompetence).

The statement then goes on to describe one voter from Seward, though, who has been a citizen ten years, has never voted before, and was proud to cast a vote for Mohamud Noor.

So, on the one hand, the campaign says that its base is engaged and active, and on the other it is expanding the electorate. Not entirely contradictory claims, but kinda contradictory, in my view, especially the way it is presented in the statement with the denial of registration drive activity.

Blogger Eric Ferguson is pretty lathered about the KSTP report, and he has special words of contempt for Phyllis Kahn’s attorney, Brian Rice, who filed a petition asking election officials to look into these multiple registrations with a mailing address at a place where no one lives, and called it to the attention of KSTP.

Eric is right that voter fraud has not been proved here, but his spirited defense doesn’t lay the matter to rest either. Here’s a quote from the KSTP article:

The address is for what’s called Cedar Mailbox Center. The building manager and mail center’s employees weren’t comfortable speaking on camera, but they said they were surprised by the allegations.

They say nobody put the wrong address on purpose. For 13 years, many Somali-Americans from all across the state have been getting their mail there. They say nobody lives there.

The employees of the Cedar Mailbox Center have no idea, of course, whether people used the address mistakenly — or fraudulently — on a voter registration application. They couldn’t, obviously, so they are, as my mother used to say, “Talking through their hat.”

And the fact that people from “all across the state” use the mailbox services may be a testament to how well the Cedar Mailbox Center does its job, but it doesn’t contribute to a feeling of security about whether the registrants live in HD60B.

Eric Ferguson writes that people often use post office boxes when they move around a lot. Well, that’s true, but when you move, your residence changes, and your precinct might, too. That’s why you re-register when you move.

Given the numbers, I would have done exactly what Brian Rice has done: ask for an investigation. People who register by mail, or now online, must still prove identity and residence the first time they vote. It is, however, a felony to merely register fraudulently, too.

One thing I would be especially interested to know is whether each of the 140 or so registrations has its own post office box number (or at least a separate one for members of the same family), and a separately-maintained physical locked box.

I would also like to know if the registrants listed 419 Cedar Avenue South on line four or line five on the application for voter registration (they better be on line five with an actual residence address on line four), and whether they included a post office box number. Here’s the registration form from the Secretary of State; it is also available in several languages other than English, including Somali.

Update: Please note that a post office box on line five is ONLY to be included IF mail cannot be delivered to the physical address on line four. There probably aren’t many addresses in HD60B where that is the case. Unless, of course, you have a dog that bit the mailman.

Further update: This tweet was posted for me about this:

What Benjamin says is more-or-less true. When a person is pre-registered, though, s/he can vote absentee by mail: no additional trips to the polling place are necessary, so it is still probably a good idea to get your supporters registered ahead of time. (It conserves GOTV resources.) For early voting, in Minneapolis, you also have to go to City Hall, not to the precinct polling place where you ordinarily vote.

There was an article in the Star Tribune this morning (July 1st) about this situation; it seems that some people have registered at 419 Cedar Avenue South as an address, and not merely a mailbox, but it is not clear whether anyone has voted from the address. Let’s hope not.

MN English Voter Registration Application

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