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Group pledges to watch for voter fraud

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ST. PAUL -- A coalition of conservative political groups is organizing a program to prevent voter fraud in the Nov. 2 election.

Election Integrity Watch is recruiting volunteers to join what it calls "surveillance teams" to observe polling places, organizers from the Tea Party, Minnesota Majority and Minnesota Voters Alliance announced Thursday. How many polls they will monitor depends on how many volunteers sign up.

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The volunteers will be asked to photograph and videotape suspected irregularities and in some cases follow buses that take voters to the polls.

Jeff Davis of Minnesota Majority said the poll watchers will look for things like buses taking large number of voters to polling places, and then going to another location so they can vote again. They also will monitor how a same-day registration law is carried out; the law allows a person to vouch for up to 15 people, saying they are eligible to vote.

Those working with Election Integrity Watch are asked to wear buttons saying, "Please I.D. me," referring to the organizations' belief that requiring voters to show photo identifications would curb voter fraud. Attempts to pass a law requiring Photo IDs have failed.

Minnesota Majority claims that hundreds of felons voted illegally in 2008 and up to 40 people may have voted in both Wisconsin and Minnesota. The group also says that 23,000 people registered to vote on election day, and voted, but their addresses cannot be verified.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, a Democrat and a photo ID opponent, says there is little intentional voter fraud in Minnesota.

Chairman Brian Melendez of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party said he fears the poll-watching efforts may intimidate new Americans and the elderly from voting. Both groups deliver strong DFL support.

"I am quite concerned about that," Melendez said. "It doesn't surprise me that Minnesota Majority would try to scare people away from the polls."

Election Integrity Watch plans radio commercials in the Twin Cities area, expanding to other parts of Minnesota if it receives enough donations, to recruit volunteers. Another spot just before election day will provide a toll-free telephone number for people to call if they suspect voter fraud.

Davis said attorneys will be on call Nov. 2, ready to go to court to stop something the organization feels is wrong.

Bill Reichert of the Voters Alliance said poll watchers will not confront voters or election officials. "We're not asking people to be aggressive."

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On the Web: www.electionintegritywatch.com

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co., the parent company of the Woodbury Bulletin.

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Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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