Minnesota Majority says Margaret Schneider May be an Unwitting Pawn in County Attorney Association’s Lobbying Effort
86 year-old Margaret Schneider voted twice. Once by absentee ballot and once in person on election day. That’s a fact she admits. According to news reports, she suffers from Parkinson’s disease and dementia. Schneider claims she was confused and questions why election judges didn’t catch the fact that it was noted on the roster that she’d already voted by absentee ballot and stop her.
After a required investigation, Nicollet County Attorney Michelle Fischer has proceeded to charge Ms. Schneider with voter fraud. Fischer claims she has no choice in the matter because of a Minnesota statute requiring a county attorney to investigate voter fraud allegations and upon finding probable cause, to prosecute.
It just so happens that right now at the Capitol, the County Attorneys Association is trying to shed that particular responsibility and make the investigation and prosecution of voter fraud cases optional, which raised red flags for Minnesota Majority.
“In Minnesota’s election laws, in order for this to be a crime, the voter would have to have intent to vote more than once,” said Minnesota Majority president Dan McGrath. “Is there probable cause that she deliberately, knowingly voted twice? If not, there’s no crime. Prosecutors are trying to pretend that they have no choice but to prosecute in cases like this, but in reality, they have been making those decisions and choosing not to prosecute when intent can’t be established for years under the current law.”
Minnesota Majority produced evidence of 1,099 ineligible people voting in the 2008 election that was provided to the various county attorneys for investigation. 200 were charged and convicted for “ineligible knowingly votes.” The other 899 were not charged, primarily because the county attorneys could not prove intent to commit voter fraud.
“It may be that the county attorney is prosecuting Margaret Schneider in order to garner sympathy for her while inaccurately claiming the law that the County Attorneys Association happens to be lobbying to change compels her. It smacks of cold political calculation. The law doesn’t need to be changed. If the prosecution can’t prove that Schneider knowingly voted twice, she won’t be convicted, and following the actions of other county attorneys and the law, probably should not have been charged,” McGrath said.