Ramsey County Denies Access to Public Election Records needed to Detect and Prove Voter Fraud
After the 2008 election, Minnesota Majority’s examination of public election records uncovered over 1,000 voter fraud cases that would otherwise have gone undetected and the discovery led to a record number of successful prosecutions, but now, Ramsey County is denying access to those very same public records. In a letter from the Ramsey County attorney’s office, Minnesota Majority’s lawful request for access to the same kinds of documents the group received before was denied.
The request was made under Minnesota’s Data Practices Act (Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 13), which is the state’s equivalent of the federal Freedom of Information Act and requires state and local governments to make all government data and documents available for public inspection, unless specifically classified by statute as “non-public” or “private.”
“The county attorney’s office used some flimsy legal excuses that our attorneys agree are merit-less,” said Minnesota Majority president Dan McGrath. “It begs the question, what is Mansky trying to hide? Our election system has never been so opaque.”
Minnesota Majority contends that without public access to our unaltered, original election records, Minnesotans can’t be confident in the outcomes. “This is a very bad precedent for transparency. Mansky apparently doesn’t want anyone examining our election records. That’s completely un-American, anti-democracy and contrary to Minnesota’s notions of ‘good government.’ In fact, I’d call it nothing short of sinister,” said McGrath.
Under Minnesota statute 13.09, willfully denying a lawful data practices act request may be a criminal offense, Minnesota Majority warned. Violation of the Data Practices Act by public employees is also grounds for dismissal under the statute.
“If Mansky and the county attorney’s office will not comply and grant access to the election records sought, we will pursue misdemeanor complaints against those obstructing public transparency of our election system and sue for our rights to the information,” McGrath said.
Minnesota Majority believes that examination of election records by non-governmental organizations or individuals should be a matter of routine in the interest of public confidence. “We’re not saying that there’s necessarily anything grossly out of order with the last election. There was definitely some level of fraud. Charges have already been filed in several cases, but it comes back to transparency and confidence. Trust but verify,” McGrath said.
McGrath noted that this isn’t the first time Mansky’s elections department sought to thwart Minnesota’s Data Practices Act. Rather than outright deny access to data after the 2008 election, Ramsey County Elections tried to charge Minnesota Majority exorbitant fees for access – fees the State Information Policy Analysis Division (IPAD) said in an official advisory opinion that Ramsey County was not entitled to under the law
Minnesota Majority has sought an advisory opinion from IPAD on this latest attempt to hide election records from the general public.
Your immediate response is needed.
- Call or email Ramsey County Elections Manager Joe Mansky immediately and demand that he make all of the 2012 election records available for public inspection.
- Make a contribution to help us fight these illegal actions in court.
Update: Ramsey County Elections has been responding to calls and emails demanding transparency, saying “public information lists will be made available in February.” This statement is a red herring designed to trick people who aren’t familiar with all the technical terms used by election administrators. The “public information list” is a CD ROM sold by the secretary of state’s office with names and addresses of voters that’s typically used by political campaigns for mailings to registered voters. The CD ROM contains edited election data and it not relevant to Minnesota Majority’s Data Practices Act request for inspection access to original paper registration forms. This statement does not represent compliance with the information request. Instead, it is another attempt to conceal the truth from the people of Ramsey County.