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Minneapolis police investigate reports Ilhan Omar’s supporters ‘harvested ballots’

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Police in Minneapolis announced on Monday evening that they were investigating reports of vote fraud, after video emerged appearing to show alleged supporters of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar collecting absentee ballots. 

James O’Keefe of Project Veritas claimed that Omar’s backers were illegally harvesting ballots. 

According to O’Keefe, a Minneapolis resident, Liban Mohamed, illegally collected some 300 ballots from primarily Somali immigrants to help his brother, City Councilman Jamal Osman. 

Mohamed in turn accused O’Keefe on Twitter of ‘fake news’. 

Omar Jamal, a Somali political operative, told Veritas that he believes ballot harvesters in the community are hired and take advantage of elderly community members and that Omar is connected to the alleged election fraud. 

However neither he nor the videos provide any direct evidence of any connection to Omar, who is also of Somali descent. 

Supporters of Ilhan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, are accused of voter fraud

Minneapolis police on Monday night confirmed that they were investigating the claims

‘Ballot harvesting’ allows a third party to collect and deliver ballots to voters.

Although widely practiced and rarely found to be abused, the rule permitting a third party to collect and return multiple ballots remains a source of partisan dispute.

More than half of states allow a third party to collect ballots, and political groups and campaigns from both parties have run ballot-collection programs aimed at boosting turnout and ensuring voters who are older, homebound, disabled, or live far from US postal services can get their ballot returned.

In Minnesota, the law states that a third party can return no more than three ballots. 

‘The MPD is aware of the allegations of vote harvesting,’ the police tweeted. 

‘We are in the process of looking into the validity of those statements. No further information is available at this time on this.’

President Trump took to Twitter just after midnight on Monday and demanded that the Justice Department investigate Omar for alleged ‘ballot harvesting.’

‘This is totally illegal,’ the president tweeted in the early hours of Monday morning.

‘Hope that the U.S. Attorney in Minnesota has this, and other of her many misdeeds, under serious review???

‘If not, why not??? ‘We will win Minnesota because of her, and law enforcement.

‘Saved Minneapolis & Iron O Range!’

‘This is totally illegal,’ the president tweeted on Monday. ‘Hope that the U.S. Attorney in Minnesota has this, and other of her many misdeeds, under serious review??? If not, why not???’

Omar responded with a meme showing a Deal or No Deal box being opened, to reveal the sum $750 – the amount of federal income tax Trump is reported to have paid in the first year of his presidency. 

Omar is one of four Democratic congresswomen known collectively as ‘The Squad’ who has frequently been targeted for criticism by the president and his supporters.

The others are House Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York; Rashida Tlaib of Michigan; and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. 

Last week, Trump again went after Omar at an election rally in Pennsylvania, suggesting that the U.S. isn’t her country. 

‘She’s telling us how to run our country. How did you do where you came from?’ Trump said of the Somali-born Democrat, who’s a U.S. citizen. 

‘How was your country doing?’ the president added. 

Omar hit back at Trump’s comments, even calling his rallies ‘cult-like.’     

‘Firstly, this is my country and I am a member of the House that impeached you,’ the Minnesota lawmaker tweeted. 

‘Secondly, I fled civil war when I was 8. An 8-year-old doesn’t run a country even though you run our country like one.’  

Minnesota is considered a key swing state in the upcoming presidential election.

According to the latest polls compiled by the news site FiveThirtyEight, Trump’s Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, has a six-point lead in the state. 

The president on Monday was reacting to a claim by James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas that supporters of Omar in Minneapolis were illegally engaged in ‘ballot harvesting’

O’Keefe’s Project Veritas released a video claiming that Liban Mohamed, the brother of Minneapolis City Councilman Jamal Osman, illegally dropped off some 300 ballots during the recent election

Project Veritas said it obtained Snapchat videos from early July posted by Mohamed, the brother of Minneapolis City Council member Jamal Osman. 

Mohamed says in the video that he collected 300 absentee ballots in a single day for his brother’s special election race in Minneapolis’ Sixth Ward, which was held on August 11 – the same day as the statewide primary election.

Mohamed is also heard in the video saying: ‘money is everything, money is the king of this world. If you don’t have money you should not be here period.’ 

Republicans say that could be evidence of a cash-for-ballot scheme, though there’s no direct evidence in the videos of money being exchanged for ballots.

Osman condemned the allegations of fraud in a lengthy Facebook post.

‘Throughout my campaign, I let my staff, volunteers and supporters know my values including the type of race I wanted to run,’ Osman wrote. 

‘I stated publicly the importance to run a positive and ethical campaign. I condemn behavior that contradicts these values. 

‘That is why I also condemn the continued attacks on the integrity of the East-African immigrant community in Minneapolis. 

‘The community is proud to be here, passionate about exercising their constitutional right to vote and excited to elect the next President of the United States.’ 

‘Ballot harvesting’ is also known as ‘ballot collection,’ which is a legal practice in many states that allows third parties to collect ballots on behalf of impaired or disabled voters who are unable to physically get to polling places. In Minnesota, the law allows a third party to collect no more than three ballots. The above file photo is a 2008 election ballot in Minnesota

Project Veritas now claims that Democrats are engaged in rampant voter fraud. 

Democrats say Trump and his allies are looking to sow doubt in the integrity of the upcoming election by making unsubstantiated allegations of wrongdoing. 

Ballot harvesting, also known as ‘ballot collection,’ is legal in a majority of states.   

Trump and the GOP contend ‘ballot harvesting’ opens the door for fraud and have fought to restrict it.

This has escalated as states prepare for greater reliance on absentee voting or vote-by-mail amid COVID-19. 

California since 2016 has allowed for someone to collect an unlimited number of ballots from voters, though it does bar someone from being paid based on how many ballots they return.

This year, Republicans and Democrats have squared off in lawsuits over the third-party collection of ballots in Pennsylvania, Florida and Minnesota. 

In Wisconsin, a conservative law firm known as the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty requested that election officials outlaw the process. 

Though that state’s laws don’t specifically address ‘ballot harvesting,’ officials said they weren’t aware of any efforts to systematically collect absentee ballots in the state and did not impose a rule prohibiting it.  

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