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Published September 06 2012

Forum editorial: Good work by Jaeger on fraud

If there is any good to come out of the voter fraud scandal involving North Dakota State University football players, it’s that the system designed to detect fraud worked flawlessly. The credit for that goes to Secretary of State Al Jaeger and his team in Bismarck, and to Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, his staff and investigators with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Their coordinated work resulted in exposing the fraud, identifying the alleged perpetrators and moving quickly to declare the two ballot measure petitions invalid.

Jaeger and his staff are the first line of defense against voter fraud and petition manipulation. Having done such work for years, they were able to detect questionable signature patterns in petitions that were circulated in Cass County. The patterns raised a red flag. Further analysis revealed thousands of phony and otherwise invalid signatures and addresses. There were so many bad signatures that both petitions (a conservation money constitutional amendment and a medical marijuana measure) were tossed out.

It’s also important to stress that the student/athletes accused of voter fraud were cooperative with authorities from the outset of the investigation. The same is true of NDSU athletic officials and administrators, according to those close to the investigation.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that the alleged fraud occurred at all. While the Bison football players likely are culpable for their parts in the fraud, the company that hired them should not be off the legal hook. Did no one in the company advise the petition carriers that faking signatures and addresses is illegal?

Meanwhile, Jaeger, Stenehjem and their staffs win praise for being quick to protect the integrity of North Dakota’s voting system.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.

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