Does Sen. Al Franken Owe Election to Illegal Votes from Felons?

| by The Volokh Conspiracy

By Paul Cassell

I just ran across this interesting post from John Lott, who discusses whether the election of Senator Al Franken was due to votes from felons ineligible to vote.  Here’s a snippet of the argument:

Senator Al Franken likely owes his Senate victory to felons. With a razor thin victory over Senator Norm Coleman in 2008 of just 312 votes, felons convicted of crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assaults may have given Democrats the filibuster proof sixtieth vote that allowed Obamacare to be passed.  Americans have good reason to ask how this could happen. Consider this:

–A conservative watchdog group Minnesota Majority has gone through voting records reportedly finding that at least 341 convicted felons voted illegally in just two of Minnesota’s 87 counties during the 2008 general election.  Undoubtedly other felons voted illegally in other counties.

– After culling through 500 initial allegations of felons illegally voting, the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office told The Minneapolis Star Tribune Monday that they are seriously investigating about 180 cases.  Another 28 felons have already been charged. Hennepin county, which includes Minneapolis, winnowed 451 initial cases down to 216 that they are still looking at.  Some other felons have already been charged.  Both the Ramsey and Hennepin county attorneys are Democrats.

Whether one believes that those two counties account for 341 or possibly well over 400 felons illegally voting, the 2008 Senate vote was so close and research finds that felons vote so overwhelmingly for Democrats that the odds are quite likely that felons from those two counties gave Al Franken the election.  

Lott’s post raises the interesting question of whether the problem of felons voting illegal is being back-burnered by the Obama administration because those votes tend to break in their favor.  It does seem that these cases would be fairly straightforward to investigate and prosecute.