MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – A conservative group has accused the nation's biggest Socialist organization of trying to ship legions of leftists to Minnesota to vote for the Democratic candidate for Senate.
The Democratic Socialists of America called the allegations a "new sophisticated form of red-baiting."
The controversy stems from a message the Socialists recently put on their Web site: "We are mobilizing to bring young people to Minnesota. Minnesota is one of the few states that allow same-day voter registration."
The pop-up ad said the group's top priority was helping to re-elect Sen. Paul Wellstone, who according to recent polls is in a close race with Republican challenger Norm Coleman, former mayor of St. Paul.
The Taxpayers League of Minnesota accused the Socialists of abusing Minnesota's loose voter registration laws by encouraging members to flood into the state and vote illegally.
Minnesota is generally considered one of the easiest states in which to vote, requiring just three weeks of residency. Voters can register on Election Day if they show proof of residency or have a registered voter from their precinct vouch for them.
The Taxpayers League called the Socialists' Web site advisory "one of the most transparent attempts to steal an election since the Daley machine ran Chicago politics."
Frank Llewellyn, national director of the Democratic Socialists, denied his group was trying to tilt the election illegally.
He said Wednesday his group hopes to send 10 or 20 people to the state to help organize support for Wellstone and that none will try to vote. The Democratic Socialists have about 8,000 members nationwide and about 100 in Minnesota, Llewellyn said.
Jim Farrell, a spokesman for the Wellstone campaign, said Wellstone didn't know anything about the Democratic Socialists and does not approve of attempts to register illegally.
The Taxpayers League later backtracked and said it was simply trying to call attention to Minnesota's lax voting laws.
"My tongue was placed firmly in my cheek," the group's leader, David Strom, said. "There are so few socialists left that they could meet in a phone booth."