Election judges may still monitor ineligible voters despite court loss

Three election judges have lost their bid to withhold ballots from felons and others known to be ineligible to vote in an election eve ruling in Ramsey County District Court yesterday. District Judge Shawn Bartsh denied a request for a temporary restraining order by election judges from Hennepin, Ramsey and St. Louis Counties in a case being closely watched by local elections officials statewide.

But even as those election judges comply with the court’s ruling, they may well be watching for voters marked as challenged with an eye toward future litigation, according to the Minnesota Voters Alliance.

Follow the Secretary of State’s policy requiring self-certification for challenged-felony/guardianship/citizenship.  The most beneficial aspect now is to gather as much specific information as we can during the election today, and we humbly ask for your assistance.

The MVA sent out an email update asking the 175 or so election judges who signed its petition on the issue to keep pen and paper handy in the course of doing their job at the polls today.

Please take notes of how many persons you encounter who are marked on the poll roster as “challenged-felony”, “challenged-guardianship” or “challenged-citizenship”.

Since election rosters are public knowledge, we would greatly appreciate knowing the names of those persons and reason for challenge. Your precinct info would be helpful.

This information will be extremely valuable for us to attain, because as we have shown, it is often difficult to get election information from Secretary of State Steve Simon. We greatly appreciate your willingness to serve as an election judge and we value your efforts to improve Minnesota’s broken election system. After five years of working on election reform issues, The MVA is more confident that ever, that together, we can bring positive, lasting change to our elections.

The election integrity group’s unsuccessful legal bid opened up state election rules to new scrutiny and received widespread media coverage from MPR and other media.

The election judges’ challenge stemmed from a Minnesota Voters Alliance lawsuit seeking to change what it sees as a serious flaw in state election policy. The group argues that Secretary of State Steve Simon is wrongly directing election judges to allow eligibility-challenged voters, including felons and non-citizens, to “self-certify” at the polls and receive ballots.

Judge Bartsh suggested that the best course for groups unhappy with state election laws would be to focus their efforts on legislative changes, rather than refusing to comply with the Secretary of State’s election instructions.

Judge Bartsh cautioned that such action would “undermine the integrity” of the election process.

Bartsh noted that there are “safeguards in place to prevent ineligible persons from voting while recognizing the constitutional right of citizens to vote.”

If only that were so. MVA has previously released voting records documenting that 1,366 ineligible felons cast at least 1,670 fraudulent votes in recent statewide elections, possibly tipping the outcome of close contests, including the 2008 U.S. Senate race.