The Minnesota Voters Alliance (MVA), a non-profit group concerned with election integrity, filed a lawsuit against Democratic Secretary of State Steve Simon. MVA’s suit claims that Simon’s new rule change—8210.2450—“is in direct conflict” with Minnesota law that requires the ballot boards, which act to determine the validity of absentee ballots, be made up by a certain number of election judges from both parties.
This party balance rule was passed after the 2008 election between former Senators Norm Coleman and Al Franken. Coleman, the Republican, led Franken, the Democrat, by over 700 votes the first time the vote was counted. Franken’s team dispatched an army of lawyers and a recount ensued, where Franken was declared the election’s winner by a mere 312 votes.
Most controversially, the margin was swayed largely due to absentee ballots. And out of 300,000 absentee ballots that were cast in the election, election judges rejected 12,000 ballots—with much controversy over the reasons why certain ballots were rejected or accepted. Meanwhile, as Byron York has reported, over 1,000 ineligible felons cast votes in that election, more than three times the margin of Franken’s victory.
Because of this, the party balance in election judges law—Minnesota Statute 203B.121—was passed almost unanimously by Minnesota’s House and Senate, and signed into law by then-Governor Tim Pawlenty.
But, according to MVA, Simon’s new rule “does away with [the requirements of bipartisan oversight] by subtly creating an exemption for staff and temporary hires (appointed as deputies), that doesn’t exist in the law.”
In the past, bureaucrats could only staff election boards if party lists for election judges were exhausted. Now, Simons is ignoring those lists in order to get his people on the election boards. Also, in what MVA says is a violation of Minnesota law, these bureaucrats don’t have to reveal their party-affiliation. “The law unequivocally requires ballot board members to disclose their party affiliations,” contends MVA.
“Unbeknownst to almost everyone, the ballot boards that are responsible for determining which absentee ballots are properly submitted to be counted are being stacked with partisan bureaucrats instead of the citizen judges of balanced political affiliation required by law,” says MVA.
MVA’s lawsuit is filed directly with the Minnesota Court of Appeals, and seeks declaratory judgment in the case, meaning it is asking the court to immediately force Simon to stop his actions as a matter of law.