Thursday, November 6, 2008

Norm Coleman campaign alleged to have interferred with election

A reporter for the progressive online journal, "Minnesota Independent," has reported that a paid staffer in Senator Norm Coleman's (Minnesota) campaign steered voters to choosing Coleman, under the guise of providing Somali translation assistance to voters. Al Franken, author, Air America Radio host, and Saturday Night Live writer and performer, challenged Coleman, as a Democrat, for the senate seat.

"Secretary of State’s office says laws may have been broken in Somali translator voting incident" --post this afternoon.

The summary from
Allegations have surfaced of voter irregularities involving a paid staffer of Norm Coleman, and the ramifications could have a profound impact on the outcome of Coleman's race against Al Franken.

A reporter for the Minnesota Independent, a progressive online publication, was working on a story about voter turnout when she overheard that Republican poll challengers monitoring voting at the precinct had brought in Mahamoud Wardere to help voters translate.

The Coleman campaign confirmed that Wardere is a paid member of their staff

"I had already spoken to at least three people who told me that translators were telling them to vote for Norm Coleman," she said.

The issue could end up being the basis of a legal challenge. According to Prof. Joe Daly of Hamline University, state election law has a provision that if there is a deliberate, serious or material violation of state election law, a district court judge must gather the evidence and present it to the presiding officer of the U.S. Senate, who would then decide the merits of the allegations.

The Senate could even revoke the results of the election and decide who would be seated as senator.

From the Minnesota Independent article:
Minnesota statute 204C.06, regarding conduct in and near polling places, states that “no one except an election official or an individual who is waiting to register or to vote shall stand within 100 feet of the building in which a polling place is located.” Fraser says that if Wardere was there throughout the afternoon and not aiding an individual voter with translation, then it’s possible laws were broken. “That is up for the county attorney to investigate,” Fraser says. “And I do not have all the facts. But if that happened, then potentially laws were broken.”

What’s more, the GOP conceivably violated election laws by at one point having three challengers as well as Wardere on site. After being asked by an election judge to leave, Wardere told the Minnesota Independent that neither he nor the election judge were certain if his role at Brian Coyle was to act as GOP challenger or translator. Wadere did not leave the building, and instead remained in the foyer or entrance of Brian Coyle Center for most of the afternoon. He later told MnIndy that he was only there to help voters with language issues. One GOP challenger, whose counterpart called in Wardere to act as their translator earlier that morning, refused to speak with MnIndy about allegations of voter intimidation or Wardere’s role at the site.

Click here for updated story, this afternoon on the Minnesota Independent site.

Read here for Al Franken's statement (11/5/08) on the recount. He says that the recount is automatic; he cites the margin of the vote between his reported vote tally and Coleman's vote tally: "a margin of just about 1100 votes out of 2.9 million cast. That’s four one-hundredths of one percent of the vote. "

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