Congressman Ellison Condemns Efforts to Intimidate Voters

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Congressman Keith Ellison held a press conference at the Minneapolis City Hall rotunda today — one week before the midterm elections — to promote civic participation, and to condemn organizations planning to intimidate and harass voters at the polls next Tuesday. Appearing with Ellison were Native American Voting Rights Advocate Laura Waterman Wittstock, Voting Rights Advocate Mai Thor, MN Second Chance Coalition’s Sarah Walker, college student Hillary Sorin and Angelina Momanyi and Iraq War veteran and student Hirwa Hersi.

According to a press release from Ellison’s office: “Minnesota has a rich history of civic participation. Since 1980, the state has led the nation in voter participation in 11 of the past 15 elections. According to an American University Research study, Minnesota had the highest voter turnout rate in 2008. But our proud history of civic participation is under threat from organizations planning to harass and intimidate voters on Election Day. Certain organizations have issued disturbing instructions—calling on people to videotape voters as they arrive at the polls and document names, which clearly violate voters’ right to privacy—and implying voters could be jailed or have their citizenship threatened.”

Meanwhile, a New York Times story today titled Tea Party Vow to Deter Voter Fraud Is Called Scare Tactic reports that, “In St. Paul, organizers from the Tea Party and related groups announced this week that they were offering a $500 reward for anyone who turned in someone who was successfully prosecuted for voter fraud. The group is also organizing volunteer “surveillance squads” to photograph and videotape what it suspects are irregularities, and in some cases to follow buses that take voters to the polls.”

Minnesota Majority has launched a campaign against voter fraud. The conservative group has joined forces with the North Star Tea Party Patriots and the Minnesota Voters Alliance to Form Election Integrity Watch. According to Minnesota Majority’s website, “This is a program designed to engage voters across the state to be vigilant, watching for and reporting on election fraud.”

Jacob Wheeler

In addition to shooting videos for The UpTake, Jacob Wheeler is a contributing editor at the progressive political magazine In These Times, publishes the Glen Arbor Sun in his native Michigan, and authored "Between Light and Shadow," a recent book about the Guatemalan adoption industry. Wheeler's stories have appeared in such magazines as the Utne Reader, Earth Island Journal, Rotarian and Teaching Tolerance magazine, and newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle and Christian Science Monitor. He speaks fluent Spanish, German and Danish.

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