ACLU Minnesota sues voter ID advocacy group over failure to disclose nonprofit status

By David Ferguson
Wednesday, May 9, 2012 16:03 EDT
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A man in a voting booth (AFP)
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The Minnesota Voters Alliance, the group suing state and local officials over allegations of fraud in Minnesota elections, was accused Wednesday morning by the Minnesota branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of not registering as a nonprofit organization.

The ACLU Minnesota accused the Voters Alliance of raising over $25,000 without filing paperwork to state Attorney General Lori Swanson (D) despite beginning fundraising in 2011. The Voters Alliance supported Minnesota’s requirement of a photo ID for all voters, a decision the ACLU opposes. ACLU Minnesota Executive Director Chuck Samuelson slammed the Alliance.

“It is ironic that Minnesota Voters Alliance portrays itself as an advocacy organization for voter integrity, yet it appears to lack integrity in its fundraising efforts by failing to follow the law and register as a charitable organization,” Samuelson said in a press release. “The secrecy around Minnesota Voters Alliance is troubling and our hope is that the Attorney General’s Office will fast track this complaint.” 

When asked by Raw Story what he believes is to blame for the Alliance’s failure to register as a nonprofit, Samuelson said that typically when groups make these sorts of mistakes it’s for one of two reasons. The first, he said, is simple incompetence. The group forgot to file or missed its filing deadline.

The second reason is more insidious, Samuelson said, “an unwillingness to play by the same rules as everybody else.” Not registering allows groups to keep their board of directors secret and allows them to avoid filing tax returns.

In 2006, the Minnesota Voters Alliance registered as a nonprofit with the federal government, but has failed to provide any annual tax returns or other financial and organizational information. No director or employees are listed, nor are any statistics for the group’s earnings or annual budgets.

According to the ACLU’s Samuelson, as of 10:00 this morning, the Minnesota Voters Alliance had not registered at all with the Minnesota state government.

Vote fraud has long been a rallying cry for voter ID law proponents, in spite of the fact that when the Supreme Court took on Indiana’s voter ID law, they could only identify one instance of in-person voter fraud in the last 143 years.

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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