Voting Problems, Fraud, Scandals Plague Polling Places Across America: Minnesota
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Photo: USA Really

Voting Problems, Fraud, Scandals Plague Polling Places Across America: Minnesota


MINNESOTA - December 11, 2018

Jeff Johnson's campaign team in Minnesota has undergone scrutiny after several reports of telephone ads about the November 6 election that happened a little less than a week before the elections.

A Kasson resident received a voicemail November 3 that said: "Hi, this is Nathan and I am calling to remind you to turn in your mail-in ballot and to ask for your vote for Jeff Johnson to be our next Governor. Since you live in a vote by mail only precinct, you should have received a ballot already. Mailing it in as soon as possible will make a huge difference and help the entire Republican team win in November … Oh, and because I am volunteering for the campaign, I am supposed to say this call is paid and prepared for by 'Johnson for Governor.'"

Jim Monk

Firstly, it should be noted it is inappropriate behavior for a Governor's campaign team to say that the campaign is paid for, and it is initially declared that the staff gathers volunteers for work in favor of Johnson. Someone was trying to frame the future Governor, declaring he paid the candidate of the Republican Party.

Secondly, the statement about voting "by mail only" is false because any voter has the right to vote however is convenient. Only townships with less than 400 registered voters hold elections by mail only.

Jeff Johnson’s campaign team said before Election Day that they knew about the incidents but noted there was only one resident in the community who received this phone call.

Still, Sara Marquardt, the Election Administrator for Dodge County said sending out these campaign recordings without due diligence is irresponsible and could lead to confusion.

Another shocking revelation in the state was the statement that the Election Commission doesn't take into account the votes of those who voted in absentia, allegedly due to the fact that it will not affect the outcome of the election.

Officials denied these rumors, saying that someone is deliberately trying to undermine a candidate. In particular, Secretary of State Steve Simon said that "it never was a truth", adding that similar falsehoods have surfaced in previous election years but seemed more widespread this year. He called it an “urban myth and said it hasn’t been traced to any malicious individual or group.

"The baseless buzz was an example of the misconceptions and falsehoods that can surface before Election Day. Sometimes they’re misunderstandings, but they can be intended to dissuade people from voting," Simon said.

Because Minnesota allows same-day voter registration, tactics like those would not be effective here in fact, Simon said.

"That's not to mention the rumor around here," he added.

After the elections, journalists could not leave aside other issues that were addressed to the same Steve Simon.

Among them was why weren’t any polling places open in several neighborhoods? Or why was there such a shortage of ballots in Olmsted County? Why has the local government remained silent about the mass failure of voting machines and about a serious hacker attack?

As it turned out, Postbulletin still has no answers to these questions. We'll try to figure it out ourselves.

According to Postbulletin, the vote counting in Olmsted County was delayed for several hours because of the alleged inability to count votes automatically. Everything had to be done manually.

Heather Bestler, the county's property tax and elections manager, confirmed this, adding that manually counting more than the typical number of write-in votes at the polling sites added time for election judges after polls closed.

"That takes a long time," she said. "For local races, for the city and schools, they have to count every write-in for every race."

She said outside of higher numbers, no trends were immediately seen as the write-in ballots were processed.

In Mower County, delays brought results much later, holding up the final verdict in the 1st District Congressional race until Wednesday morning.

Steven Reinartz, the county's auditor-treasurer, said the delay was due to a number of reasons.

A computer glitch caused problems in downloading the results to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website, but he said voters in precincts that received mailed ballots for the first time also contributed to some late results.

Recall that townships with less than 400 voters have the opportunity to vote by mail.

For example, in Providence, RI, according to officials, no voters came to the polling station. Miguel Nunez, deputy director at the state elections board, told the Providence Journal that Precinct 2807 has just 11 registered voters.

As for Mower County, it had 13 precincts using the option, up from 3 in 2016.

Reinartz said some voters in those precincts misplaced their ballots or attempted to go to their former polling places. They were directed to go to the county office to vote.

As a result, the office saw more than 100 voters on Election Day, some arriving near closing time.

"We had people still here at 8 p.m. when the polls were closing," he said.

With 14,603 ballots cast in Mower County, Reinartz said 3,921 were either absentee or mailed ballots, which added to the time needed for processing.

For other reasons, the representative noted that he would not rule out suspicious attacks that had occurred during the postal vote. It's not clear why this was attributed to other reasons. Perhaps it is because the authorities themselves did not notice it and could not prevent it in time.

One Reddit user writes: "I live on Oakland Av. in Austin. I had to vote in the mail due to I work at home and can't leave it. In addition, it is really convenient. The post didn't have to vote multiple times to get my vote counted. We have such a system that when a person has voted, he sees the result on the website. I didn't see my result several times, then it appeared, but it was strange. It was like crashing or hacking a server."

Another case was described in a telephone conversation with the Timberjay when a person voted twice.

"I called the Commission, but they said they knew about it," John said.

In Jackson County, polling stations closed Tuesday at 8 pm across Minnesota, but voters had to wait a little longer than most in the state to find out who would take office in January.

According to Jackson County Auditor/Treasurer Kevin Nordquist, the election results were uploaded to the Minnesota Secretary of state's office around 1: 20 on Wednesday, nearly two and a half hours later than in Nobles County.

Nordquist said the delay was caused by what he called "hiccups." The two main reasons were more polling stations only by mail and technical difficulties in downloading the results, he said.

"Quite a few people misplaced or discarded (their mail-in ballot), so they ended up coming to our office to vote because we're their polling place on election day," Nordquist said. "We didn't anticipate such a heavy rush of people coming into the office to vote on Election Day."

This eternal problem of the "surprise of a heavy rush of voters" is common throughout the US, and it was strong in the presidential elections of 2016, and wasn’t fixed this time around.

In Jackson County, precincts in Jackson, Lakefield and Heron Lake were tallied on site, while 12 townships with polling places returned their ballots to the auditor/treasurer's office after 8 p.m. to be counted.

The delay in reporting could also be attributed to how the office initially uploaded the results.

In Olmsted County, Bestler expressed the same need for taking time to ensure counts were done properly, especially with a high number of absentee ballots turned in on Election Day.

The office received 527 absentee ballots between the time the office closed Monday and the 3:30 p.m. deadline on Tuesday, bringing the total to a record-breaking 17,487 absentee ballots for the election.

The total absentee ballots accounted for more than 24% of the total 71,592 Olmsted County ballots cast in the election

Olmsted County turnout was down from the 80,736 voters seen in the last presidential election, but up by more than 20,000 from the midterm election in 2014.

Bestler said the percentage of voter turnout for Olmsted County will be known next week when final processing of Election Day registrations is complete. In addition to the increase in absentee voting, she said Olmsted County election judges reported an uptick in registration at the polls.

"We had quite a few precincts asking for more registration forms," she said.

Problems with the election process appeared again in Tower, on Tuesday, November 6, even as efforts to address more extensive problems during the August primary appear to have run aground.

There, on Election Day, the Tower Civic Center was closed for some time during the ballot-counting procedure, which is a violation of the state rules for votes counting, which require the public to have access to the polling station at any time during the counting of votes.

Officials were unable to comment on the center's actions, nor did they provide the results of the elections to the public upon request.

The Secretary of State's official election judge guide states that judges are supposed to "post one of the results tapes in the polling place for public viewing."

When informed of that requirement, City Clerk-Treasurer Linda Keith said that their voting machine did not print a public tape and that none have been made available in the past. She did provide city council race results when requested to do so.

As a result of numerous errors during the August primary, county election officials required election officials in Tower to undergo retraining in election procedures in September.

The city council did ultimately vote to reprimand Keith last month and had directed her to prepare a written request to the county for a special audit of the city’s election process following Tuesday’s election. But county elections supervisor Phil Chapman said that the county has yet to receive such a request. Without a formal request, he indicated the county likely won’t undertake any special review of Tower’s election results.

Author: USA Really