plus - US Supreme Court Decision on Political Apparel in Polling Places
June was a singular month for Andy Cilek and Minnesota Voters Alliance (MVA). And for voter rights. On June 15, the US Supreme Court struck down Minnesota’s law banning “political” apparel from the polling places on election day. In 7-2 ruling, Justices overwhelmingly sided with Minnesota Voters Alliance, finding that the law violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. Only Justices Breyer and Sotomayor dissented.
Just one week later, on Friday June 22, Ramsey County District Court Judge Jennifer Frisch heard oral arguments in Minnesota Voters Alliance (MVA) versus Secretary of State Steve Simon. The 'voter data' lawsuit was presented in front of a standing room only crowd. Andy Cilek, Executive Director of MVA, reported that the hearing went well. Judge Frisch is expected to rule in the coming weeks.
Minnesota Voters Alliance v Secretary of State Steve Simon is a landmark case involving the Secretary’s refusal to provide the public with full voting information on every voter (as the law requires), so the public can evaluate the Secretary’s performance and assess the true amount of ineligible voting.
The MVA won the first round battle back in December when Ramsey County District Court Judge Jennifer Frisch denied the Secretary’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
Rather than examining indications that thousands of potentially ineligible persons voted in the 2016 general election, the Secretary has gone to great legal lengths to obstruct MVA’s attempts to analyze both the amount of ineligible voting and election officials’ performance in preventing it.
The purpose of this litigation is to finally pry loose the data needed to understand:
How more than 26,000 persons marked challenged on the polling rosters, were permitted to vote in 2016, according to the recent report by the Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA). The OLA examined only a small sub-set of those 26,000, namely 612, and determined only 20 of them may have been eligible.
• Why there were over 16,000 new registrants in 2016 who identified themselves using the last four digits of a Social Security Number but could not be found in the Social Security Administration database. These statistics are available to the public.
• How more than 6,000 registrants in Ramsey County alone failed the “address check” following the 2016 election.
• And, how more than 2,800 individuals are recorded as having voted twice in the same election according to the limited data available from the Secretary’s office on the Public Information List it distributes on CD.
See also Cilek opinion piece in the Pioneer Press : Evidence of Ineligible Voting is Being Neglected
As noted above, the US Supreme Court struck down Minnesota’s law banning “political” apparel from the polling places on election day. In 7-2 ruling, Justices overwhelmingly sided with Minnesota Voters Alliance, finding that the law violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. Only Justices Breyer and Sotomayor dissented.
The highest court sided with the position of MVA, namely, that government may not enact a haphazard policy that bans all political speech. If a state wants to restrict speech at the polling place, it must be careful in how it does so. The case will have ramifications for other states that have similar laws.
Initiated by Ramsey County elections director, Joe Mansky, Minnesota specifically targeted conservative apparel, empowering election judges to harass conservatives and Republicans and in some cases prevent them from voting if they refused to remove their apparel. In yet another example of the importance of the make-up of the U.S. Supreme Court, this ruling can be seen as a set-back for those in the media, on college campuses, in legislatures, and elsewhere, who are similarly determined to silence conservatives.