The Potluck

Don’t listen to a certain president of the United States — voting twice carries consequences

By: - September 18, 2020 12:54 pm

He’s been saying vote twice. Don’t do it.

Since President Trump has been out telling supporters to vote by mail and then go to the polls on Election Day and try to vote again, we wondered what would happen if somebody actually tried to do that.

“That piece of advice is just immensely damaging,” said Risikat Adesaogun, press secretary for the secretary of state, who is Minnesota’s elections administrator. “It is definitely a crime to vote and then attempt to vote again.”

Voting twice is a crime under both state and federal law, and the law makes no exceptions for those who “just wanna make sure it works.” In fact, if you vote by mail and want to make sure the state got your ballot, there’s an app for that! Or at least a website: mnvotes.org/track.

But let’s say somebody follows Trump’s advice and votes by mail, and then also tries to vote at a polling place. Adesaogun said there would be a signifier next to their name on the list of voters saying they have an absentee ballot. But let’s say you requested an absentee ballot and have it, but didn’t vote with it and now try to vote in person. Then you’d have to sign “like a little affidavit” saying you requested an absentee ballot but have not used it, and acknowledging that you can only vote once.

There are multiple security measures before, during and after voting, Adesaogun said. So, let’s say somebody got an absentee ballot but hasn’t mailed it in yet, then votes in person, too. Only one vote would be counted, she said. The other would be rejected before the election is verified. During the 2020 primary election, 79 ballots were rejected for that reason, Adesaogun said.

Local law enforcement would be responsible for following up on the case.

And if you think they won’t, don’t be so sure: A Shakopee woman was prosecuted for voting twice in the 2016 general election: by voting absentee in Minnesota and in person in Fargo, North Dakota. Her attorney said it was an honest mistake, but she still pleaded guilty. He said he learned during discovery that Minnesota and North Dakota officials cross-check a list of voters to guard against double voting.

“Of course, it’s preferable if misinformation were not coming out of the highest office in the land,” she said. “We hope people don’t try to tempt fate by doing illegal stuff.”

As of last Friday, the state had received more than 1 million requests for absentee ballots.

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Deena Winter

Deena Winter is a freelance journalist who has covered state and local government in four states over the past three decades.

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