The politically charged recount of U.S. Senate votes for Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and DFL challenger Al Franken got even more political Monday, when conservative group Minnesota Majority filed a complaint against "dismissive" authorities, including Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.
Coincidentally, the former executive director of Minnesota Majority, just-elected State Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, preceded DFLer Ritchie as secretary of state. So DFLer Ritchie is overseeing the ballot recount in the race, which Coleman leads by 206 votes.
Minnesota Majority filed a complaint Monday with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), alleging that state voter registration rolls "revealed a number of irregularities." The complaint is an amplified version of its pre-election notices to officials in 30 counties about the irregularities.
Hennepin, the state’s most populous county, was among them.
Minnesota Majority President Jeff Davis on Oct. 16 sent Ritchie a letter on the basis of "limited" analysis, requesting a written reply by the end of the day Oct. 17 about how the office intended to deal with alleged irregularities before the election.
The group wanted cross-checks between voter registration files and other government records, including the Social Security Administration and state Department of Motor Vehicles.
In October, the group expressed concerns about the number of newly registered voters, "bad or missing phone numbers," new voters at undeliverable addresses, change in addresses for 13 voters age 100 or older, and that 3,689 voters in the Hennepin and Anoka counties had died since 2006.
Jim Gelbmann, deputy secretary of state, replied to the group with a letter that outlined voter registration laws designed to prevent voter fraud. It included the zinger, "Thank you again for your letter and providing my office with your limited analysis."
Now, two days before a manual recount of 2.9 million ballots, the group is taking its original action a step further by filing its complaint with the DOJ and announcing its intention to seek additional information from the secretary of state and county officials under the Minnesota Data Practices Act.
It isn’t the first time that Kiffmeyer or a group to which she has tieshas complained to the DOJ.
During the contentious 2004 presidential election campaign, Kiffmeyer asked the DOJ to investigate Hennepin and Ramsey counties with allegations that election officials used illegal registration forms. After consideration, the DOJ said the forms were legal.
Neither Ritchie norDaviscould not be reached for comment.
But in a press release on Minnesota Majority’s website, Davis said registration integrity is important to ensure the integrity of the U.S. Senate recount.
"The security and scrutiny around the recount of ballots looks like Fort Knox," Davis’ releasesaid. "But because of lax controls in our voter registration process, we will never actually know whether all of these ballots were cast by legally eligible voters."