MN Voter Fraud - Fact or Myth?

Andy Cilek, the executive director of the Minnesota Voters Alliance, recently took the Star Tribune to task on their statements dismissing potential voter fraud in Minnesota.    

Cilek pointed out that their arguments against the possibility of voter fraud need to be examined carefully because they involve several fallacies:

  • Bias of the cited source

  • Ill-defined studies

  • Use of irrelevant data

MN_Voter_Alliance_Logo.jpgOn August 12, the Star Tribune published an article about the suit that the MVA planned to file to get access to Minnesota voter registration data.  The article ended by noting critics that say “these groups are searching for solutions to a nonexistent problem.”  It cited a 2014 study that examined 1 billion votes between 2000 and 2014 and found only 31 incidents of documented fraud.

How can the study data be relevant when court records show that known voting crimes in Minnesota occur at a rate at least 1,000 times the frequency cited in the study?

There were 369 voting convictions in Minnesota between 2008 and 2014, in a period when fewer than 10 million votes were cast.  Compare that to the data cited in the study:  31 incidents of voter fraud out of 1 billion votes cast between 2000 and 2014.  The best that can be said is that the study was limited and ultimately irrelevant to the questions of voter fraud being raised by MVA in Minnesota.

The study was conducted by the Brennan Center, which has a long-standing commitment to demonstrating the nonexistence of illegal voting.

The stated finding would imply that all types of voting fraud were studied.  Not so.  The study was limited to the case of ineligible individuals impersonating legal voters.  This is a subset of the voting issues that need to be addressed.

The author of the study wrote that he found very little that he could “substantiate”.  Proving that something does not exist requires very rigorous methodology, a willingness to look in many different places, and a researcher that does not have a vested interest in the outcome.

Andy Cilek goes on to point out that those 369 MN convictions represent a small fraction of the actual amount of ineligible voting.  Not all ineligible voters are identified.  In Minnesota, statues require the state to show that the person “knowingly” voted while ineligible.  In essence, an ineligible voter can only be convicted if they can be detected and they admit they are guilty.

The Minnesota Voters Alliance conducted its own study and submitted it to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2016.  The MVA study found 1,670 provable instances of ineligible voting by felons alone during the four general elections of 2008 through 2014.  This is more than four times the number of convictions during the same time period. 

MVA has not been able to investigate the amount of other forms of ineligible voting.  Data that would be valuable in quantifying the magnitude of that problem has been withheld by Minnesota’s Secretary of State.  Hence the importance of the suit filed by the Minnesota Voters Alliance.