Minneapolis man who ‘worked for a campaign’ gets probation in voter fraud case

Two election workers recognized Essa "because he had come numerous times to the voting area," according to the complaint. 

Voters line up for early voting outside a polling location in Minneapolis in November. (Minneapolis Elections and Voters Services/Twitter)

A Minneapolis man who had been charged with 13 counts of voter fraud has now been sentenced to two years of probation.

Abdihakim Amin Essa, 25, was convicted on four of the 13 counts against him, according to a sentencing order. The nine other counts were dismissed. His two years of probation resulted from a stay imposed on his 180-day jail sentence.

Essa, a permanent resident of the United States but not a citizen, had been accused of falsifying 13 absentee ballot applications and attempting to cast one himself. His alleged falsifications involved signing as a witness for 13 people when he did not have the authority to do so.

Essa was not a registered voter, had never been registered to vote, and was not eligible to vote as a non-citizen, according to court documents.

He told officials he was working for a political campaign but refused to say which one.

A January 2020 motion filed by Essa’s attorney mentions an audio recording in which an election worker expressed her belief that it was “very likely” Essa was working for “one of two campaigns,” and also that her and her colleagues believed it to be a “large scheme” of particular concern.

According to the original criminal complaint, Essa brought a “prospective voter” to the Hennepin County Government Center on July 30, 2018, but when the “prospective voter” didn’t have proper identification, she came back with a different “helper” and an application form with a new address.

Two election workers recognized Essa “because he had come numerous times to the voting area,” according to the complaint.

So they decided to track him down and found him “on the ground level of the Hennepin County Government Center.” He said he had been “witnessing absentee ballots by signing his father’s name because [he] was not a United States citizen.”

“He further admitted that he worked for a campaign. [An election worker] later confirmed that Defendant’s father was a registered voter and that his full name is Amin Aar,” the complaint says.

“Based on this encounter, election officials inspected approximately 9,000 absentee ballots to determine if Defendant had signed his or his father’s name as witness to the absentee ballot. Officials were able to identify 13 absentee ballots that Defendant either signed as witness with his own name or that of his father,” it adds.

Just one day later, on July 31, Essa returned to the Hennepin County Government Center as a “prospective voter” with another “helper” and tried to vote in another name. Then when he was asked if he spoke to an employee the previous day, Essa “got nervous and acted as if he did not understand English.”

“He stated he had left his identification in his car. He then left and took his application with him,” the complaint adds.

Police spoke with Essa’s father, who said he “had driven people to the Hennepin County Government Center to vote but that he had not signed any voting documents.”