Hearings Begin in Election Judges’ Lawsuit

About 40 people, most of them election judges, gathered in front of St. Paul City Hall prior to the beginning of court proceedings between the Minnesota Voters’ Alliance and Secretary of State Steve Simon’s office.

Greg Buck, a member of and long term donor to the Alliance, spoke to reporters and introduced the group’s attorney for the case.

“We are asking for a restraining order based on the following fact,” Buck said, “We believe the Secretary of State through his election judge guide has directed election judges to provide ballots to ineligible voters.

Simon’s guide to election judges contains instructions to allow voters identified as “challenged-felony,” “challenged-guardianship,” and “challenged-citizenship” will be able to self-certify their eligibility and be able to vote. The Alliance is suing in an attempt to force him to retract that instruction.

“We’re asking the court to enjoin election judges throughout the state of Minnesota to not provide a ballot to these ineligible persons on the precinct roster,” the Alliance’s attorney Erick Kaardal said.

Three lawsuits were initially filed, and the lawsuits were consolidated to the Ramsey County Court of Appeals under emergency petition due to the closeness of the election. That petition was filed under Minnesota Statute 204B.44.

Judge Shawn M. Bartsh presided over the case. She is an appointee of Governor Mark Dayton.

Today’s hearing was divided into two sections. The first dealt with the Ramsey County Court’s jurisdiction over the case. Attorneys representing the government argued that the complaint covered elections all over the state, and that the Ramsey County Court does not have jurisdiction over all those elections. They also argued that under 204B.44 the complaint must target a specific election, and that the issue at hand is not sufficiently related to ballots to be eligible for a ruling under 204B.44.

Bartsh promised Kaardal she would reach a decision speedly so that the matter would be settled in advance of the election.

“It’s the beginning of the process to have a better election system. There’s no anti-government point here,” Kaardal said of the suit, “300 election judges have contacted me, through signing this petition, and it’s the election judges who brought this issue. This is a big problem. There’s not one election judge, not one, who has brought forward an affidavit supporting the Secretary of State.”

If the case is decided in favor of the Alliance the Secretary of State’s office will be immediately required to send out a communication to all election officials instructing them to no longer follow the current election judges guide’s instructions regarding challenged eligibility voters Buck stated.

“It’s a very easy process for the Secretary of State,” Buck said, “So we’re asking for two things to happen. One that communication to happen, and that they are also instructed not to give ballots to ineligible felons, wards, and non-citizens.