Braublog notes that the purgers at President Bush’s U.S. Department of Justice may have been onto something when they targeted former U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger for working to advance voting rights for Native Americans; turnout continues to climb to new heights at the Red Lake Indian Reservation, running 95 percent in favor of Democrat Al Franken on Election Day, the Bemidji Pioneer reports today.
There’s nothing new about the northern Minnesota reservation getting attention during tight election contests. As reported here last month, the director of President Ronald Reagan’s 1984 re-election campaign is fond of recalling how he had to talk down hard-charging colleagues who wanted to recount what they thought were suspicious votes there (by “dead Indians”) in hopes of netting the Gipper a full 50-state sweep. And Red Lake has had experience with close races and calls for recounts in tribal government elections as recently as 2006.
The area has found a way to play a leading role even in the preliminaries to this week’s recount in the U.S. Senate election. Last week the Franken campaign put forward what turned out to be mostly a rural legend about an elderly woman whose absentee ballot was rejected because after she had a stroke, her signature no longer matched the one on file. Even as it emerged that this wasn’t the case, the woman was never identified publicly — except that she lives in Beltrami County, where most of the Red Lake reservation lies.