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Olmsted County attorney finds six felons illegally voted in 2008

Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem said his office is considering filing criminal charges against six felons who voted illegally in the 2008 election. Those cases come after a conservative interest group alleged as many as 50 felons might have voted illegally in Olmsted County.

"It's actually lower than I expected," Ostrem said.

Ostrem said the cases have been sent back to investigators at the Rochester Police Department to determine whether any of the six offenders had been told it was OK to vote. Ostrem has until Nov. 2 to charge them with felony voter fraud before the two-year statute of limitations runs out.

The investigation was sparked by a report issued by Minnesota Majority in June, which concluded that more than 2,800 felons in Minnesota might have illegally voted in the 2008 election. That was the year of the razor-thin U.S. Senate election in which Democrat Al Franken beat Republican Norm Coleman by just 312 votes.

In the report, Minnesota Majority alleges that 50 people living in Olmsted County might have voted illegally. Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman Tony Sutton last month sent a letter to all 87 county attorneys in the state, calling on them to investigate.


Minnesota Majority Executive Director Dan McGrath said in a past interview he knew that there would be "false positives" in the data and that is why he asked county attorneys to look into potential cases.

Olmsted County DFL Chairwoman Lynn Wilson blasted Republicans for pushing the investigation, saying the accusations should have been brought up during the 2008 recount process — not two years later. She said the investigation has taken up limited county resources and is an attempt to smear DFL Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.

"To come back so blatantly after the fact and make these accusations in a political election year speaks for itself," she said.

But Republican Party of Minnesota spokesman Mark Drake said the party stands by its call that these cases be investigated. He said the party was not aware of the issue until Minnesota Majority released its report.

"Anytime anyone votes illegally, that should never happen, and we need to make sure it doesn't happen in this next election," Drake said.

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