Phyllis Kahn alleges election judge called her "old Jewish lady," opponent "Muslim brother"
Noor (right) is trying to take Kahn's seat and become the first Somali elected to the legislature.
The campaign of Rep. Phyllis Kahn (D-Minneapolis) has filed two complaints regarding improprieties that have allegedly taken place during her heated primary battle with Mohamud Noor.
One alleges that a Minneapolis elections judge named Fadmo called Kahn "an old Jewish Lady" while interpreting the primary ballot for a Somali man who was recently at City Hall to cast his absentee ballot. On the other hand, Fadmo characterized Noor as "our Muslim brother," the complaint says.
In a letter to Minneapolis City Clerk Casey Joe Carl, Kahn's attorney, Brian Rice, writes, "The Kahn campaign believes that your office is allowing a clearly partisan person to work as an election official."
Though the "old Jewish lady" incident happened last Friday, Rice, in his letter, writes, "I understand that this person was back in city hall on Monday and continuing to work on processing voters."
We contacted city of Minneapolis spokesman Casper Hill about the complaint. Asked for information about Fadmo, including her last name and job title, Hill initially said, "She's an elections judge."
But in a subsequent email Hill declined to provide further information:
The City of Minneapolis can only provide public data on employees. No employee from the City has received final discipline related to your stated allegation. If you want public data on a specific employee, you can request public data as allowed under Minnesota Statutes, Section 13.43. Examples of public data include names and titles of employees. Please let me know if you want any specific public data. Thanks.
The second complaint alleges that an address at 419 Cedar Avenue South is being used to register scores of voters that don't actually live there.
"The Kahn campaign has reason to believe that the Noor campaign has been behind the registrations of new voters at this address," Rice writes in an email sent to Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, among others. "Further, we have reason to believe that many more, perhaps hundreds of people have been using 419 Cedar Avenue South as an address to register and vote in the Primary election on August 12, 2014 in the race between Kahn and Noor."
"The Kahn campaign has more than a reasonable belief that none of these new registrants who claim to live and reside at 19 Cedar Avenue South can in fact reside there," Rice continues. "It is impossible. The building has at most 30 units."
Reached for comment yesterday, Kahn distanced herself from the allegations being made by her campaign.
(For more, click to page two.)
Kahn also grants that the 419 Cedar issue could be a simple "misunderstanding," not voter fraud.
"When you're dealing with translators, it's very possible that it's simply a mistake," she says. "But we want to make sure it doesn't happen again."
Asked how confident she is about prevailing in the August 12 primary, Kahn, who was first elected to the legislature in 1973, says, "I'm never confident, that's why I'm out working and door-knocking."
"Whenever anybody comes up to me and says, 'Things are good very well, they look good,' that's when I say, 'That's what they said with Eric Cantor,'" Kahn says. "The last thing you want to be in this time is confident but you don't want to foul up on issues like this."
On Facebook, Noor denied having anything to do with voter fraud.
As the facts come to light about the alleged improprieties at 419 Cedar, it is increasingly clear that the Kahn campaign's motivation in filing their petition has nothing to do with my campaign and is instead aimed at distracting voters in our district.
I welcome the investigation into 419 Cedar--voter fraud is a serious allegation that must be investigated thoroughly. But make no mistake, this petition, which cynically and baselessly associates my campaign with voter fraud, is a divisive tactic that creates mistrust in our community. Creating mistrust is not who we as progressives are.
It's time to turn the page. I am running for State Representative because I believe our community has urgent needs that need to be addressed: disparities in housing, poor economic mobility and unequal educational outcomes.
Join me in telling Representative Kahn we need to focus on the issues, not distractions.
Hennepin County officials are holding a hearing about the 419 Cedar complaint July 10, the Star Tribune reports. City of Minneapolis spokesman Hill tells us the allegations about Fadmo have resulted in an "active investigation."
To read the Fadmo complaint for yourself, click to page three.
I filed a complaint with you on Saturday, June 28, 2014 regarding the actions of one of your election officials named Fadmo. Complaints had been made about the conduct of this person early on Friday. Late Friday morning, Grace Wachlarowicz told me by phone that Grace had talked to the woman and was confident she was adhering to her oath as an election judge. Complaints about this person continued. Late Friday afternoon, Grace advised me that Fadmo had been removed from the voting area and was under investigation.
I understand that this person was back in city hall on Monday and continuing to work on processing voters.
I had advised you that the Kahn campaign had specific information about the conduct of this election judge and that we expected to contacted by your investigators. That has not happened.
I am providing you with the following information regarding Fadmo' s conduct and the conduct of Ilhan Omar relating to how a voter, one Shire Olad Ilmi, whose photo ID is attached, was effectively denied the right to vote by your office on Friday, June 28, 2014.
The following is an account by Mike Molzahn, a volunteer for the Kahn campaign. Mr. Molzahn was at city hall on Friday and personally observed the inicident with Mr. Ilmi. Here is what Mr. Molzahn recalls in an email written on Sunday:
"MJ (Mohamed Jama) was acting as interpreter for an old Somali gentleman and the woman in red (Fadmo) came over to watch him. Ilhan Omar and Casey Carl were standing close by watching but came closer when the red woman began arguing with MJ. MJ was given a strike, at which point he was thrown out and the old man became visibly upset. The elderly man even more frustrated as the red woman and Ilhan tried to do what I assumed was translate. The gentleman threw his hands up and went outside, they tried to stop him but he left.
I ran outside and got the man, who was clearly upset to come back in, we went straight to the balloting area and I told Casey we has the man who left. They brought him the ballot and sat him down but refused to let MJ be the interpreter. Casey, Ilhan, and the woman in red all stood there as Ilhan and the woman in red spoke with the older man. He got angry, started to get up, at this point he was pointing at MJ as he argued, motioning for him to come. Casey must have realized that he wanted MJ as an interpreter, not Ilhan and the woman in red. MJ came in and started to help the man, the woman on red started saying things to MJ and he continued, then both the woman in red and Ilhan started saying things and the man threw up his hands and left again at that point.
They refused to let this man have his interpreter, Ilhan did more than stand and loiter, she was allowed to interject herself twice while standing in the balloting area the whole time."
It is clear from this account that the gentlemen wanted Mohamed Jama to act as his interpreter. It is also clear that Ilhan Omar had absolutely no reason to be in contact with this man. It is also clear that Fadmo was not carrying out the intent of this voter as they were arguing.
The presence of Omar in this situation violated election law. She was not requested to assist this voter, yet she was allowed to approach him twice. Mr. Ilmi did not vote on Friday despite two attempts to do so.
We have provided you with allegations that Fadmo was referring to Ms. Kahn as "an old Jewish Lady" and she referred to Mr. Noor as "our Muslim brother."
The Kahn campaign believes that your office is allowing a clearly partisan person to work as an election official. We also believe that Ilhan Omar violated Minnesota election law by interfering with voting on Friday. Yet, you are taking no action against either person.
Again, we request that you remove Fadmo from her position and that you turn the matter of Omar's interference with Mr. Ilmi's voting rights over to the proper authority.
Kahn Campaign Attorney
What a timely follow-up on your part. I have just returned to my desk, with coffee, to reach out to you on this very issue. I have been investigating your allegation of last Friday with reference to our election judge, Fadmo. To the point, I was going to request the name and contact information for the individual who raised this issue to your campaign so I could interview him or her and ascertain the facts from their perspective. Do you have contact details so I may get in touch with Shire Olad Ilmi? Also, I will require contact information for Mr. Molzahn so that I may interview him about the facts from his perspective. I'm glad to finally know the exact situation that provides context for the allegation. I recall this incident vividly, having been drawn into the situation.
Please submit contact information for Mr. Ilmi and Mr. Molzahn to my attention by reply to this email.
Casey Joe Carl
Mike Molzahn's email is attached.
651.485.6088 is his number.
I've sent you his contact information too.
To be clear, the Kahn campaign wants everyone to vote where they are permitted to do so.
We want the rules followed.
We understand the intensity on both sides.
We have had repeated reports of Ilhan Omar approaching voters uninvited. We have had reports of Omar shouting directions to Fadmo.
This campaign has already seen hundreds of votes cast. The County Attorney is investigating my petition on 419 Cedar Avenue South.
The sooner fall these issues are addressed, the voters, candidates and observers of this election can have confidence in the election's fairness.
Sent from my iPhone
Happily, we share the same goal, which I very clearly articulated at our candidate forum this past Thursday: I am only concerned with the rights of the voters. I am no partisan and care not for candidates or campaigns. As you know, matters are under investigation; those processes continue and must be completed. I think it best that further communications cease pending the outcomes of these two investigations in response to allegations you have raised. That way, as you point out, confidence in the fairness of this election can be maintained.
Casey Joe Carl
To read the complaint regarding 419 Cedar, click to page four.
Subject: Voting at 419 Cedar Avenue South, Ward 6-Precinct 3 Request for Investigation and Petition under Minn. Stat. 201.
Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman and Auditor Mark Chapin:
I represent Phyllis Kahn and the Kahn Volunteer Committee.
Phyllis Kahn is running for reelection for Minnesota State House in District 60B. Her opponent in the DFL primary is Mohamud Noor.
Late last night, the Kahn campaign learned of what might well be a massive attempt to violate Minnesota election laws.
Supporters of Rep. Kahn from the Cedar Riverside neighborhood, informed me that the address of 419 Cedar Avenue South was being used as an address where people from outside District 60B and Ward 6, Precinct 3 are using to register to vote in the upcoming August 12th Primary election.
Last night, I was told that perhaps hundreds of people were registering at this address.
This morning before 8am, I went to Cedar Avenue South. I could not find a street number of 419 Cedar Avenue South posted on any building on Cedar Avenue South. Attached you will find pictures of the odd numbered addresses on Cedar Avenue. There is a 615 and 621 Cedar Avenue address. There is no 419 Cedar Avenue South address posted on or over a door on Cedar Avenue South. The pictures that are attached to this email support that. I have also attached pictures of the back of the building. There is not specific number for 419 Cedar Avenue South posted on any of the doors in the back of the Building.
What does appear to be where 419 Cedar Avenue South would be located is the AL-KARAMA CEDAR SQUARE Somali Mall. Above the building is what appears to be apartments. Next to the address of 621 Cedar Avenue South is a call box for apartments. I reviewed the names in the call box. There It is called the HOLTZERMAN DIRECTORY. The Holtzerman Directory lists 27 names:
Kat Weisberg Kelsey
Nak Gon Koh
After reviewing the building from the front and back and the directory, a reasonable person can conclude there can be no more than 30 living units in the entire building that comprises several street addresses on Cedar Avenue South. This is not a high rise apartment building. It is a building well over 100 years old.
I was told last night that 419 Cedar is actually a building that has post office boxes or mailboxes in the basement of the building. I was not able to gain entrance to any part of the building. And as there is no street address of 419 Cedar Avenue, I wouldn't know if I was in the correct place.
At about 8:20 this morning I asked for and received information from the DFL Voter Activation Network of VAN. The DFL Van contains the names and addresses of all voters registered in the state. The Kahn campaign has access to the VAN for District 60B and Ward 6, Precinct 3. The Kahn campaign learned this morning that 149 people have registered to vote at 419 Cedar Avenue South since January 1, 2014. (See attached list from DFL Van--this is not the complete list. The Secretary of State's Office or the Hennepin County and Minneapolis election offices will have current lists.) None of the names on the DFL VAN list match the names of the 27 people in the Holtzerman Directory. The Van appears to have been updated on May 22, 2014. I am told that that occurred when data from the Secretary of State's office was updated. The Kahn campaign has reason to believe that the Noor campaign has been behind the registrations of new voters at this address. Further, we have reason to believe that many more, perhaps hundreds of people have been using 419 Cedar Avenue South as an address to register and vote in the Primary election on August 12, 2014 in the race between Kahn and Noor.
The Kahn campaign has more than a reasonable belief that none of these new registrants who claim to live and reside at 619 Cedar Avenue South can in fact reside there. It is impossible. The building has at most 30 units. The current directory lists none of the new names in the DFL Van.
Simply stated, it appears that there is a massive voter fraud effort under way.
Early voting began at 8am today in Minneapolis City Hall for the District 60B and all other elections for the August 12th Primary. It is possible that voter fraud has already occurred in the election as voting has been underway for four hours.
Minn. Stat. 204C.10 requires that every person voting in an election "maintains residence at the address shown" on their voter registration card. It is impossible for these new 149 persons to maintain a residence at 419 Cedar Avenue South, especially given the list of names I have provided above. It is impossible for any if not all of these 149 people and others who seek to use this address to vote in the election to meet the requirements of Minn. Stat. 200.031.
Under Minn. Stat. 204C.10 every person must affirm that that reside in the precinct for the election. It is a felony to violate this provision of law punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine..
The Kahn Campaign request that your office begin an immediate investigation of this matter. We request that you advise the Minneapolis elections office to require each voter who seeks to vote at 419 Cedar Avenue to be asked if they actually live at that address and answer questions that specifically ask what apartment they live in and where they park any vehicle that they own. Any person who is registered at 419 Cedar Avenue South since January 1, 2014 should be advised that when they complete their absentee ballot that they are swearing under oath that they in fact do reside at that address. This is the law. The person must reside at the address they claim to vote from. Minn Stat. 204C.10. A challenger can ask that they swear that they live at the address.
Attached you will also find a petition under Minn. Sta. 201.195 signed by me challenging the names attached thereto. I ask Mr. Chapin or the appropriate County official to begin proceedings against these individuals within the time period required.
The integrity of this election for 60B and potentially many others are at stake right now.
Voting started this morning an already over 100 people have voted.
This matter requires your immediate attention.
I will file the petition in person shortly.
Attorney for the Phyllis Kahn.
Another email from Rice to the chief election officials in Minneapolis and Hennepin County:
Ms. Gelms & Mr. Carl:
I represent Phyllis Kahn and the Kahn Volunteer Committee. I write to both of you in your capacity as chief election officials for Hennepin County and the City of Minneapolis.
On Friday, June 27th I filed the attached petition. You were each emailed a copy of the petition. I also gave the petition personally to Ms. Gelms and to Grace Wachlarowicz. In that petition, I affirm under oath that I believe none of the people registered to vote at 419 Cedar Avenue South appear to live there. That evening KSTP-TV ran a news story about the petition and showed video of a mailbox station in the basement of a building on Cedar Avenue at what KSTP says is 419 Cedar Avenue South. KSTP quotes the workers at the store above the mailbox station saying that no one lives at the mailbox station.
Yesterday, I learned that two people may have voted by absentee ballot using the address of 419 Cedar Avenue South.
Under Minn. Stat. 204C.12, subd. 1, "an election judge shall... challenge an individual whom the person knows or reasonably believes is not an eligible voter."
Minn. Stat. 204C.12 provides a quick and ready means to resolve what already clearly appears to be illegal voting at 419 Cedar Avenue South.
You both have been provided with a sworn petition that reasonably establishes that people are registering to vote at an address for which no residential units exists. This fact can easily be confirmed by checking city housing records and county property tax records.
You both can review the KSTP-TV report and see that 140 cannot maintain a residence in a basement mailbox room.
I am writing to request that you each instruct your absentee voting officials beginning Monday, June 30, 2014 to inquiry of any person who seeks an absentee ballot from the address of 419 Cedar Avenue South to make a statement under oath to your election officials that they meet the requirements of Minn. Stat. 200.031 and in fact do reside and maintain their residence at 419 Cedar Avenue South.
As Minnesota election officials, you are expected to uphold the law.
I respectfully submit there is much more than a reasonable belief that 140 people cannot be living in a small basement room at 419 Cedar Avenue South. There may already have been two or more people who voted from this address on Friday.
Allowing voting to continue at this address now that these facts have come to light will only serve to undermine the integrity of the elections in this state. As election officials, it is incumbent upon you both to take action immediately.
Please advise me of the course of action you plan to take beginning Monday morning on this request.
Attorney for Phyllis Kahn
Here's the response from the Hennepin County elections official:
We are in receipt of your petition pursuant to Minn. Stat. sec. 201.195. We are in the process of setting a hearing on this petition for the afternoon of Thursday, July 10, 2014. The matter has been referred to the County Attorney's Office for investigation. Any absentee ballots submitted by voters who list the disputed address as their residence are being held pending further advice from the County Attorney. We will contact you prior to the Absentee Ballot Boards taking any action with any ballots submitted with this disputed address. In addition, we may take additional actions with respect to individuals seeking absentee ballots and identifying this disputed address as their residence based on information gathered during the investigation.
Ginny Gelms, Elections Manager - Hennepin County
And here's Rice's response:
Thank you for this response.
I renew my request that you as the chief election official for Hennepin County to immediately require voters who present themselves from 419 Cedar Avenue South be put under oath and asked to verify that they do in fact reside at 419 Cedar Avenue South.
I think it is now abundantly clear that no person resides at 419 Cedar Avenue South. By taking action now you can ensure that this primary election is conducted in accordance with law. This prophylactic measure will achieve the following:
1. Minnesota election law will be followed from the time voting begins until it ends;
2. Votes will be properly accepted and we will not have to go through an elaborate process if challenging voters;
3. Citizens who are under the mistaken impression that they can vote will learn that they cannot at this address and not expose themselves to potential criminal prosecution;
4. Once members of the community learn that they are ineligible to vote at 419 Cedar Avenue, others will get the message;
5. The integrity of the elections in Minnesota are now fairly questioned-- there is an obvious and egregious flaw in the registration system that may have been going on for years. The sooner that Hennepin County takes a decisive leadership role in correcting this, the better off the entire state will be. Reviving a debate about our election laws and whether they work serve no ones interest.
6. A protracted challenge at the absentee ballot board, a judicial intervention or an election contest will expend public resources unnecessarily. And a delay will only add confusion and problems.
Again, I remind you that under law you as am election official have ample basis to deter a violation of law.
Sent from my iPhone
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