he woman at the center of a vote-fraud investigation in South Dakota says the state attorney general is ignoring evidence of other improprieties during the election.
Democratic activist Becky Red Earth is suspected of falsifying hundreds of absentee ballot applications before last month's vote. In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court against attorney general Mark Barnett, she charges that Barnett has "improperly singled [her] out, notwithstanding hard evidence of substantial voting improprieties at actual polling places during actual voting which has been ignored by [Barnett]."The lawsuit also charges that other people were involved in the improprieties. Saying that she is "on the lowest rung of the ladder," Red Earth says, "It is expected that an evidentiary hearing will 'flesh out' the selective nature of [Barnett's] choice to single out [Red Earth] to the exclusion of others both higher on the ladder and involved in improprieties during the actual election."
Red Earth goes on to allege that "Barnett was "well aware that [Red Earth] was operating on orders from her superiors and that she specifically denied any intent to defraud anyone." She asks the U.S. District Court in the Southern Division of South Dakota to bar Barnett from taking any action against her.
The lawsuit appears to refer to allegations of vote buying, absentee ballot fraud, illegal electioneering, improper voter identification, and other issues raised by Republicans in the aftermath of Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson's 524-vote victory of GOP challenger John Thune. Many of those allegations are contained in more than 40 affidavits from Republican poll watchers, along with interviews with Republican and Democratic election officials, which are featured in the current issue of National Review.
Barnett has on several occasions dismissed most of the allegations as "local election-board management problems." For example, referring to witness accounts that allege Democrats used polling places as get-out-the-vote offices, in apparent violation of South Dakota law, Barnett told a local newspaper, "That's not a crime. That's a lesson plan."
The Red Earth lawsuit charges that in recent statements, Barnett has "portrayed indifference to allegations of impropriety at the polls during the actual election of November 5, 2002, saying that sometime in the future he would appoint an investigator to look into allegations of vote buying, and apparently had nothing to say or do about allegations of improper voter identifications and improper opening of polling places."
Barnett, who has not responded to telephone inquiries from National Review, told the Associated Press in South Dakota that, "Sooner or later everybody sues me, so I don't get too worried about it."
Meanwhile, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports that Barnett will today release the results of his investigation into the accounts of three people who swore that the driver of a "Tim Johnson For Senate" van offered them $10 to vote. It is not clear whether he will also announce the indictment of Red Earth, which has been expected for several weeks.