MN SOS Instructing Election Judges to Allow Felons to Vote

MN Secretary of State Steve Simon is instructing election judges to allow non-eligible citizens to vote if they say they’re eligible

St. Paul, MN – More than 152 people have signed a petition encouraging election judges to break the rules given to them by the Minnesota Secretary of State. It’s a legal effort aimed at preventing ineligible voters to self-proclaim themselves as eligible to vote.  

The “Minnesota Election Judge Petition” asks election judges to vow not to allow “ineligible felons, wards and non-citizens to vote after self-certifying their eligibility.” The petition encourages election judges to follow state law rather than guidelines given to them by the Minnesota Secretary of State.

According to the Center of the American Experiment, current state law establishes a procedure to match felons, people under guardianship and noncitizens against the list of people who have registered to vote in the statewide voter registration system. If there is a match, county auditors are required to change the voter status from “eligible” to “ineligible” of any registered voters who are determined to be felons, under guardianship or noncitizens.

The petition claims that the instructions Secretary of State Steve Simon is giving to election judges encourage a different procedure. Simon’s instructions say election judges, “must allow felons, people under guardianship and noncitizens who are identified as such on the poll roster to vote anyway, so long as they take an oath claiming they are eligible to vote.”  This means that even if someone has been marked ineligible to vote, if they claim they are able to vote, they must be allowed to.  

The petition, started by the Minnesota Voters Alliance, a nonprofit election law watchdog group calls 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. The petition claims “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.”

Andy Cilek, Executive Director of the Minnesota Voters Alliance, says the Secretary of State’s Judge’s Guide is not compatible with state law, saying, “Minnesota’s election officials are in error when they prescribe the procedures published in the Minnesota Election Judges Guide. Minn. Stat. § 204C.12 does not allow ineligible persons to self-certify as to eligibility and to vote.”

The vow to personally prevent this type of voting isn’t the only step election judges are taking.  Three Minnesota election judges are taking legal action as well, filing lawsuits last Friday against the Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon as well as election managers in Hennepin, Ramsey and St. Louis Counties, requesting an injunction to relieve them this election from having to permit people who are listed as felons, people under guardianship and noncitizens to vote.

“We hope to free election judges from performing the illegal procedures required by the SoS which allow ineligible voters to self-certify as to their eligibility and to cast a vote,” Cilek said.

Cilek says there is a hearing date in Ramsey County Friday, with the other two lawsuits being heard before the election.