The secretary of state has produced a report on returned postal verification cards stemming from new voter registrations in the 2010 General Election.
The postal verification card was enacted into Minnesota’s election law for the purpose of mitigating voter fraud, but it serves a dual purpose. Upon successful delivery of the PVC, newly registered voters are informed of their polling place location and that their registration has been processed. When they are returned as undeliverable mail for a number of possible reasons (no such address, no such person at that address, unoccupied address or non-residential address), the voter is flagged for challenge at the next election.
Thanks to changes in election law pushed by Minnesota Majority and enacted in 2009, investigation of returned postal verification cards (PVCs) has been strengthened and the secretary of state is now required to produce a report on those returned PVC cards after each election cycle. The first such report was released on March 1st.
At first glance, the Postal Verification Card Report for November 2010 General Election is somewhat ambiguous, but with a bit of digging, its meaning is revealed. Simply, 399 voters who registered in 2010 with unverifiable registration information have thus-far been referred to county attorneys for investigation. Those referred to the county attorneys have ostensibly been pre-screened by county auditors who are supposed to attempt to determine the reason for a PVC return.
The total number of returned PVC cards from the 2010 General Election is not yet known. Indeed, its unlikely mailing of the cards is even complete. In the wake of the 2008 general election, of over 500,000 Election Day registrants, 23,000 (about 5%) were subsequently flagged for challenge due to unverifiable registration information. Those forwarded to the county attorneys are not explained by typos or other errors.
The largest numbers of referrals to county attorneys to date are in Anoka (66), Dakota (99), Benton (16), Hennepin (61), Ramsey (15), St. Louis (17), Stearns (41) and Washington (41) Counties.
While it is an improvement in election transparency that the secretary of state must now produce a report on PVC cards after every election, and it’s also an improvement that county attorneys are called upon to investigate undeliverable election mail, there remains a big problem. Even if it were conclusively determined that a voter used bogus information to register to vote, prosecution is impossible.
County attorneys don’t have crystal balls. If an undeliverable PVC card was addressed to Mickey Mouse at 123 Fiction Lane, and there’s obviously no such person or place of residence, the county attorney has no idea of who he’s actually looking for. He can’t charge a person who doesn’t exist with voter fraud. A warrant for Mickey Mouse’s arrest will yield no fruit.
This is why photographic Voter ID is crucial to the integrity of our elections. Even when we know voter fraud has occurred, we can’t prosecute because there’s no way of knowing who actually perpetrated the fraud.
Fortunately, legislation is making it’s way through the House and Senate that will address this gaping hole in Minnesota’s election integrity. HF210 (Kiffmeyer-Benson) and SF509 (Limmer) offer comprehensive solutions to Minnesota’s election security problems.
Take Action: Contact your legislator and ask them to support 21st Century Voter ID. Tell them to vote YES on HF210 and SF509 and accept no substitutes.
Hearing Notice! The 21st Century Voter ID bill will have it’s first hearing in the Senate on Monday, March 14th at 1:00 PM in the Government Operations and Elections Committee (Capitol, Room 112). See the committee site, or join us on facebook for more details.