Skip to comments.Massive voter fraud investigation under way in state
Posted on 10/11/2002 4:46:12 PM PDT by RadicalRik
Rapid City Journal
Massive voter fraud investigation under way in state
By Denise Ross, Journal Staff Writer
A large-scale federal and state investigation into voter registration fraud in six South Dakota counties is under way, state Attorney General Mark Barnett said Thursday.
The two-week-old investigation, now being led by the FBI, has uncovered the likely registration of dead people, people not old enough to vote and people who appear not to exist, Barnett said.
"The feds jumped on it immediately. The FBI has conducted a remarkable number of interviews, and they're moving very rapidly. I've been very impressed with the speed and thorough nature of their investigation," said Barnett, who has made the matter a top priority for the state Division of Criminal Investigation. "We get reports on what they're finding out. They're reporting directly to the U.S. attorney, who I'm in conversation with on a daily basis."
The FBI is leading the investigation because the counties in question are either American Indian reservation counties or counties close to reservations, Barnett said. The state is assisting and Barnett said his office stands ready to take over any parts of the case where the state has jurisdiction.
The South Dakota Democratic Party has launched a massive voter registration drive on South Dakota's nine reservations in preparation for the blockbuster Nov. 5, 2002, general election, which will include every elected South Dakota state and federal office except one U.S. Senate seat.
Democratic Party spokeswoman Sarah Feinberg said party officials became aware of the situation after visiting with the Dewey County auditor about problematic absentee ballots. Party officials reviewed the ballots and contacted the U.S. attorney, Feinberg said.
The party itself is not implicated in any wrongdoing, she said.
Three of the counties involved in the investigation are Dewey and Ziebach counties on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation and Fall River County, which takes voter registration for Shannon County on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Barnett said. He declined to name other counties involved.
The investigation currently focuses on a single person who is from South Dakota, but Barnett cautioned, "it could expand."
"There's one particular person who's been very busy. The question is, were there others involved?" Barnett said. Barnett said the investigation "could generate some state issues" and that the short time remaining before the Nov. 5 election makes the matter urgent.
"We've made it a priority for obvious reasons. There are enormous stakes. Beyond protecting the rightful winner, it's far more important to maintain the faith of the voter in the integrity of the system," he said. "If people believe it's easy to cheat in our system, they'll tend not to vote. It's absolutely critical that we get to the bottom of this and find a way to reassure the voters each vote is counted and counted once. Each person gets a vote and only one vote. This is democracy at its base, its most fundamental core."
The case came to the attention of the Attorney General's Office when county auditors reported receiving "unusual" absentee ballots. The auditors also reported they had trouble with a number of voter registration confirmation cards. Either the cards were returned undeliverable or residents called to report they had received a confirmation card for a person who did not live at their address.
"It's wrong, it's illegal and it's unfair and we're going to go after it," Barnett said.