Press Release -- Minneapolis sued for stacking ballot board
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Lawsuit: Minneapolis abandons voter protections when rejecting absentee ballots
Ballot boards are stacked with city insiders instead of election judges
Minneapolis, Minnesota – Thursday, July 2, 2020
The Minnesota Voters Alliance (MVA) and several election judges have filed a petition asking the Hennepin County District Court to order the City of Minneapolis to follow the law for appointing members to the absentee ballot review board for this November’s elections.
For years, Minneapolis has used city clerk staff to do the critical function of examining absentee ballot envelopes and deciding which ones are to be rejected and which are accepted. The law, however, requires the ballot board to be comprised of election judges from lists submitted by the four major political parties. The city simply ignores the law, uses insiders to accept and reject ballots, and avoids any outside scrutiny over its handling of mailed-in ballots.
Shortly after the highly contested recount in 2008 between Al Franken and Norm Coleman, a race in which 300,000 absentee ballots were cast and 12,000 were rejected, the legislature passed a law to ensure impartiality. It required that election judges reviewing each absentee ballot envelope must be of different major political parties (party balance).
The law was passed by an almost unanimous vote of 131-2 in the House, and 63-0 in the Senate, and signed by then-Governor Tim Pawlenty.
In 2013, the legislature expressly eliminated the provision in that law which had allowed city or county staff to serve on the absentee ballot board along with election judges.
The legislature understood that when an individual, however qualified they may be to perform election duties, becomes an employee of a city or county, earning an income from that city or county, the employee’s impartiality is compromised due to the authority the city has over the individual as the individual’s employer.
Using a balanced number of election judges that are affiliated with different political parties ensures that any one-sided biases in rejecting ballots will be reduced. Further, if there is mishandling of ballot envelopes by one party, election judges from another major political party will be aware of it and can expose the irregularities they have seen up close.
In short, the City of Minneapolis has implemented a system that is contrary to the intent of the legislature and the will of the people, one in which they simply appoint city staff to accept and reject ballots behind closed doors without any citizen election judge oversight or party balance.
“The government has an obligation to the people of Minnesota to make sure the election process is lawful, trustworthy, beyond reproach, and transparent. Minneapolis simply must obey the law,” said attorney Erick Kaardal.
MVA Executive Director Andy Cilek adds, “Minneapolis is not alone in its abuse of the law. The policy of Secretary of State Steve Simon has enabled jurisdictions throughout the state to do much the same as Minneapolis. As the state’s chief election official, he bears major responsibility for this systemic failure to protect mailed-in ballots from potential mistreatment.”
To view the MVA petition, Click Here.
Dan McGrath, Communications Director – firstname.lastname@example.org - 612-702-5649
Andrew Cilek, Executive Director – email@example.com - 612-900-2759
Erick Kaardal, Morhman, Kaardal & Erickson, P.A. – firstname.lastname@example.org – 612-341-1074