Conservative groups in Minnesota are offering a $500 reward for tips leading to voter fraud convictions.
Minnesota Majority, Minnesota Voters Alliance and the Northstar Tea Party Patriots have teamed up on a project they call Election Integrity Watch and are running radio ads promoting what they say is a program to train “thousands of citizens of what to look for at the polls.”
The defunct community organizing group ACORN is featured prominently in an online ad promoting the program, embedded below. They are also distributing this pamphlet which tells poll watchers to photograph or video buses that arrive at their polling places and people offering voting assistance to others.
“We are putting a price on the heads of anyone who would attempt to organize people with the intent of cheating in our election,” said Jeff Davis, president of Minnesota Majority. “We’ve received reports of organizers enticing people to vote fraudulently with small financial incentives such as gift cards. We’ve also seen evidence of this illegal practice in the official incident logs from the 2008 election. We will now offer individuals a more lucrative incentive for turning-in these organizers of voter fraud.”
The Election Integrity Watch website asks voters to show ID at the polls in hopes of inspiring voters behind them to do the same, even though Minnesota law doesn’t require voters to do so.
“While Minnesota does not require an individual to show an ID, let’s act like it does. This simple act of showing an ID will likely result in a spontaneous reaction from others in line behind you to show their ID as well,” according to the website. “Any person in line thinking about committing voter impersonation will likely be dissuaded from doing so.”
Their website offers buttons asking poll watchers to ask for their I.D., and their website features a photo of a man holding binoculars on the lookout for voter fraud.
“It’s up to YOU to prevent voter fraud,” their website banner reads.
Tea Party groups, as TPMMuckraker has reported, have taken up the anti-voter fraud agenda, which critics say can depress turnout from groups which lean Democratic. The conservative website Pajamas Media launched an anti-voter fraud initiative this week. In Illinois, a voter integrity initiative has come under scrutiny because of GOP Senate candidate Mark Kirk’s secretly recorded statements acknowledging poll watchers would focus on two predominately African-American neighborhoods of Chicago and two other areas of the state.
Wendy Weiser of the Brennan Center, a nonpartisan public policy and law institute based at New York University which has focused on how so-called ballot security initiatives can prevent voters from having their ballots counted, told TPMMuckraker this week that the Center is worried about the initiatives this year.
Specifically, Weiser said that the fact that it is independent groups and not political parties which are leading anti-voter efforts this year is a potential cause for concern. “It does create a much more difficult environment and makes it much more difficult to protect against known or inadvertent illegal conduct,” she said. “They’re not an organized group or national political party.”
Watch the “Election Integrity Watch” video below: