On June 15, 2016, the Minnesota Voters Alliance (MVA) petitioned the Minnesota Supreme Court to stop election officials from permitting known ineligible felons and non-citizens to vote.
On June 21, 2016, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued an expedited briefing schedule in which the Secretary of State has until July 15 to respond. MVA will then have ten days to reply.
MVA is forcing the State of Minnesota to explain to the Minnesota Supreme Court why it thinks it can violate the plain text of the Minnesota Constitution, election statutes, as well as specific court orders and permit individuals to vote who election officials know are ineligible.
Continue on to read our in-depth report on this important issue.
In other words, is it legally allowable that the state judicial branch convicts a person of a felony and removes that person's right to vote and then, on election-day, the executive branch ignores the court order and restores the person's right to vote just because the ineligible person "swears" he is eligible?"
In addition to specific violations of statutes and Article VII, Section 1 of the Minnesota Constitution, those actions by election officials violate the separation of powers principle by usurping the role of the judiciary branch.
The 115-page petition filed by MVA takes the Court through
• a description of election law in Minnesota, defining the State’s actions of registering, entitling, and permitting a person to vote.
• election violations by the Minnesota Secretary of State and county officials
• notifications provided to election officials, as required by specific statutes, of the ineligibility of every felon and non-citizen in the state.
• data inquiries to the State Court Administrator, the Department of Corrections, the Secretary of State (SOS), and county auditors, demonstrating that felons and others are reported to and known by the Secretary of State
The MVA filing defines two particular ways in which election officials permit known ineligible persons to vote on election-day:
• Felons and other known ineligible persons are allowed to register and then cast ballots because election officials do not check any lists of ineligible persons.
• Election officials permit every felon marked “Challenged: Felony” on the poll roster to cast a ballot if the felon “swears” they are eligible.
In essence, Minnesota courts have determined that actions taken by certain individuals warrant the loss of their privilege to vote, but the state leaves it to these convicted felons to determine if they are eligible to vote.
NO HARM NO FOUL?
The filing by MVA then considers the extent of the harm caused by these state actions. MVA lays out the case that
• the amount of ineligible voting being allowed by election officials is significant in Minnesota
• it probably has, and certainly can, determine the outcome of close elections – MVA presents 1,670 instances of ineligible voting by 1,366 named individuals during the 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014 general elections
In presidential election years, more than 500,000 persons register on Election Day in Minnesota. Research done by MVA 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.
HAS THE SECRETARY OF STATE TAKEN ACTION?
The Secretary of State (SOS) has actually obstructed the public from knowing the full extent of ineligible voting being caused by election officials’ actions.
Despite more than a dozen written communications between the MVA and the Office of the SOS over a year’s time, the Office refuses to provide MVA with voting records of persons who are marked “Inactive” or “Challenged” in the state election database.
MVA summarized the State’s actions for the Court this way:
“The Office of the Secretary of State carries out a three-step process whereby it permits persons to cast ballots who it knows do not have the right to vote; then, after the election, assigns those persons voter statuses of “Challenged” or “Inactive” and, finally, refuses to disclose the voting histories of those “Challenged” or “Inactive” persons.”
MVA argues that these actions violate the Minnesota Constitution and statues and asks whether disregarding court orders is a violation of the separation of powers principle by the executive branch.
How can a court remove a person’s right to vote in August, notify the Secretary of State in September, and then in November the Secretary and county election officials completely disregard the judicial order? One might speculate that if such undermining of the courts were systematically done by officials in any other state agency, those officials would be held accountable personally.
The MVA filing proposes simple, effective, comprehensive, practical, and inexpensive corrections for these errors and advises the Court that the proposed remedies are necessary for protecting the validity and credibility of elections in Minnesota, including next November’s election.
The filing by the Minnesota Voters Alliance before the Minnesota Supreme Court is a major achievement. It represents an immense amount of work by a number of committed staff and volunteers. They have persevered despite the obstructions put up by Secretary of State. The filing, with over 7,000 pages of supporting documents and data, presents comprehensive and compelling arguments, along with the largest and most definitive set of ineligible voting data ever gathered in Minnesota, and probably anywhere.
CLICK HERE for more information about the Minnesota Voters Alliance.