Pre-election hearing ordered for MN election judges concerned over voter fraud
The Minnesota Supreme Court has ordered an expedited hearing on November 4 for three election judges who are suing Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon over instructing them to allow felons and others known to be ineligible to vote.
The order consolidates three lawsuits filed on October 28 in Hennepin, Ramsey and St. Louis Counties into a high-stakes hearing in Ramsey County District Court just four days prior to Election Day. The plaintiffs requested an injunction relieving them from having to provide ballots to people who are listed as felons, people under guardianship and noncitizens, as currently required, if the individual takes an eligibility oath.
“In the unusual circumstances of these matters, expedited resolution of the request is necessary, requiring expedited response to the request,” the state’s highest court said in the November 1 order.
The move comes as 278 election judges from 22 Minnesota counties have signed a controversial petition committing them to decline to follow the Secretary of State’s 2016 election judge guidelines on the issue.
The Minnesota Voters Alliance petition states:
I join in this petition calling for all election judges in Minnesota to refuse to follow the Minnesota Secretary of State 2016 Election Judge Guide requiring election judges to provide ballots to ineligible persons marked “challenged – felony”, “challenged – guardianship” and “challenged – citizenship”, even if they wish to self-certify as to their eligibility. To do so would be to allow an ineligible person to illegally vote at the November 8, 2016 election and would violate my election judge oath.
State officials yesterday responded to the petition in an email sent to county auditors and election administrators statewide. Gary Poser, Director of Elections for the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State, said several elections officials had brought the MVA petition to his attention.
Unless a court rules otherwise, election officials, including election judges, do not have the authority to change this longstanding statutory procedure.
Any time an election judge or staff you supervise refuses to follow any election law, including allowing an individual to respond to a challenge, it is your responsibility to ensure that the law is followed. This means you may need to take steps necessary to allow voting to proceed according to the law, such as reassigning the election judge to other duties within the polling place or including dismissal.
MVA contends self-certification is limited to cases in which an election judge challenges someone’s eligibility based on personal knowledge or reasonable suspicion–not across the board to individuals already adjudicated as “challenged” or ineligible to vote. Minnesota Voters Alliance Executive Director Andy Cilek urged supporters to pack the St. Paul courtroom on November 4 at 1:30 p.m.
The Secretary of State’s threat of dismissal for law-abiding election judges is an outrage. The election judges are right that the Secretary of State’s procedures exceeds his statutory authority. If the Secretary of State can not follow the law, he should be dismissed – not the election judges.