Voting Case Heard by Ramsey County District Court

MVA_logo.jpgOn September 28, 2016, the Minnesota Supreme Court determined that it would NOT take original jurisdiction over a petition from the Minnesota Voters Alliance (MVA) to stop known ineligible persons from continuing to vote in Minnesota elections. 

This meant that the case needed to first be heard by a District Court, and that process began last week, on October 13.

The MVA complaint alleges that the Secretary of State wrongfully directs election judges to permit known ineligible persons to vote such as non-citizens, convicted felons and vulnerable persons found by a court to be mentally incompetent to vote, as long as they swear they are eligible.

These continuing wrongful acts exceed the clear limits placed on election officials by Article VII, Section 1 of the Minnesota Constitution, violate Minnesota Statutes 201.061 and 201.014 and defy unequivocal court orders (e.g., for felons) directing election officials to not provide ballots to those specific individuals.

In presidential election years, more than 500,000 persons register on Election Day in Minnesota.  Our previous research has shown that after the 2008 election, there were more than 17,000 of those persons who, when verified after the election, had their voter statuses changed to “challenged” because they did not pass the state’s eligibility checks.

The Minnesota Voters Alliance sued Secretary of State Steve Simon in June, following an unsuccessful challenge in federal court.

The Supreme Court ruling, a historical procedural decision, said the challenge should first be heard in district court.  The Court deferred to the district courts of Minnesota to adjudicate the Secretary of State's procedures regarding ineligible persons, such as felons, court restricted persons and non-citizens.

The MVA and its co-plaintiff, former state representative Kirk Stensrud, filed its legal challenge in Ramsey County District Court against the Secretary of State.

The Ramsey County District Court ordered a Rule 16 hearing last Thursday, October 13, at the Ramsey County Courthouse.  A Rule 16 hearing is a conference for purposes that include a) expediting the disposition of the case; b) establishing control over the matter to ensure it is not protracted; c) discouraging wasteful pretrial activities; d) improving the quality of the ultimate trial if any; and e) to facilitate settlement if possible.  In this hearing, the court is expected to decide if it will rule in time for the 2016 election.

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