Skip to comments.Fraud Charges Cloud Senate Election in Daschle's Home State
Posted on 10/17/2002 10:17:03 AM PDT by kattracks
(CNSNews.com) - Reports of voter registration fraud involving Democrats and Indian reservations are pouring out of South Dakota, the home state of Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.
Less than three weeks before the mid-term election, the allegations complicate one of the closest Senate races in the country, one Republicans hope to win in order to regain control of the chamber.
A Zogby International poll of 500 likely voters conducted Oct. 9-11 found that 45 percent of voters favor GOP Rep. John Thune, with 43 percent favoring incumbent Democrat, Sen. Tim Johnson. Ten percent remain undecided.
The FBI and the state attorney general have launched investigations into incidents in which employees of the state Democratic Party allegedly tried to register dead or nonexistent people to vote absentee in the November election.
Voters are allowed to vote absentee between Sept. 24 and Oct. 21. The state works largely on an honor system in which voters who go to the polls on Election Day aren't asked for identification.
At least six counties near Indian reservations are reportedly implicated: Dewey, Pennington, Fall River, Charles Mix, Shannon and Ziebach.
In Ziebach County, someone allegedly sent in an absentee ballot application for Denise Red Horse, a woman who died in a Sept. 3 car accident. Her application was signed Sept. 21, more than two weeks after her death, and mailed with a bundle of other applications by the Democratic headquarters.
The Wall Street Journal reports a Shannon County election clerk received a high number of new voter registrations, many "clearly signed by the same person" and some hailing from Nebraska.
Bret Healy, the executive director of the South Dakota Democratic Party, has said he notified the U.S. attorney about the fraud and subsequently fired contractor Becky Red Earth-Villeda after she allegedly submitted invalid voter registrations.
Two former Daschle staffers, Rich Gordon and Brian Drapeaux, head the Democrats' Indian voter project. And the Johnson campaign has made outreach to potential Indian voters a priority in this year's election.
FBI special agent Paul McCabe said he could not comment on specifics of the agency's on-going investigation, which is being conducted by the FBI's Minneapolis office. The FBI became involved because Indian reservations come under federal jurisdiction.
Christopher Maynard, a Dakota State University political scientist, doubts that incidents of voter fraud are part of a comprehensive, intentional effort on the part of state Democrats.
"Much of the fraud that's been found so far has to do with money more so than trying to influence the election," said Maynard. "The problem comes in when many of these groups, such as the Democratic Party, give money based on how many people you can canvas, how many absentee ballots you can bring in."
He believes the Senate race will remain focused on issues like Iraq, Medicare, prescription drugs, and Social Security.
But the election could remain tainted by the accusations of fraud, says Maynard, if the attorney general is unable to unearth any evidence of the wrongdoing between now and the election, if the national media publicizes the matter, or if Johnson wins by a slim margin.
If Johnson wins by a few hundred votes, "then you might have a situation where the Republicans contest it in the court system," he predicted.
And it's Johnson who has an edge, Maynard believes, thanks to pork barrel politics.
"The reason this race is in a dead heat right now [is] because Daschle is in charge of the Senate, and that gives South Dakota a huge advantage as far as appropriations," he said.
But on Election Day, Maynard says, it's voter turnout that will determine the outcome, especially the senior vote.
"If it snows that day and it's cold and miserable and that brings down the elderly vote," he said, that could spell trouble for Johnson.
E-mail a news tip to Christine Hall.
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However, I shall keep tryin' nonetheless...MUD
One thing about South Dakotans. They can't stand cheaters or liars once found out.
The rest of the blame goes right to Tom Daschle who became majority leader by "default". Republicans voted for Jeffords because he was the pubbie candidate and then he stabbed republicans EVERYWHERE in the back.
Now Tom Daschle is reaping what he sowed and hopefully, Tim Johnson will be defeated because SD doesn't have the stomach for this kind of stuff.
In Florida, we've been there done that. We could give rat seminars to other states IMO. It's a short course: NEVER TRUST A DEM RAT.
Isn't that illegal, immoral, or at least, PAINFUL? :o) fsf
Haven't they learned that the honor system only works with honorable people and that the Rats have no honor?
Well Stated.You can vote, but not have to identify yourself.It's simply unbelievable.I'm surprised Daschle and the state have been able to keep that fact under wraps for this many years.
And the 'Rats are shooting for a 113.6% turnout...
LOL! And the dead shall rise as Democrats as they did in the days of Daley!!