Nov. 9 Hearing Set as MVA Appeals Decision on Partisan Absentee Ballot Boards

Gavel_law_background-close-up-court-1415558.jpgMinnesota Voter’s Alliance (MVA) sued the city of Minneapolis last year when the city decided to appoint 102 “deputy city clerks”, the “…vast majority of which were from one political party…”  to the absentee ballot counting board in Minneapolis.

MVA argued in court that this violates state statutes that require ballot counting boards to be no more than half from each of the major parties. In an email to Republican election judges, the city of Minneapolis stripped their authority to reject ballots and instead said that only ‘deputy city clerks’ would be allowed to do so.

The lower court ruled against the MVA suit on purely technical legal grounds. The court never considered whether Minneapolis’ appointing 102 “deputy city clerks” (mostly employees of the city, the vast majority of whom were of one party) actually raised the specter of ballots being accepted or rejected based on partisan considerations.  Preventing that was the Legislature’s purpose in requiring such boards to have equal numbers from each major party. MVA has appealed the ruling.

The outcome of the appeal could have a serious impact on our elections. If any city can “stack” absentee ballot counting boards with dozens of “deputy city clerks” appointed by the existing city councils from among the council’s own employees, the self-interest of the incumbent politicians makes the potential for bias in elections clear. Even if no shenanigans take place, the mere appearance of bias will shake public confidence in the election.

Both sides have filed legal briefs in the appeal and oral arguments on the case take place on November 9th at 9:30. The Appeals court website explains how the public can "attend" the electronic meeting - the link for the session will be available next week. SD49 newsletter will report the outcome of the case when a decision is handed down, which could be up to ninety days after oral argument.