UMLC Files Lawsuit Challenging New Minnesota Voting Law
New expansive felon voting law passed last session violates Minnesota State Constitution
Today, the Upper Midwest Law Center (UMLC), on behalf of plaintiffs Minnesota Voters Alliance, Mary Amlaw, Ken Wendling, and Tim Kirk, filed a lawsuit challenging the recently passed voting law in Minnesota. The plaintiffs argue that the new statute exceeds the authority granted to the state legislature under the Minnesota State Constitution.
Under the Minnesota Constitution, Article VII, Section 1, individuals convicted of a felony may not vote “unless restored to civil rights.” A recent ruling by the Minnesota Supreme Court, Schroeder v. Simon, states that restoration of civil rights occurs upon completion of the felony sentence. The new law grants felons still under sentence, but on supervised release the ability to vote in Minnesota elections, directly contradicting constitutional law.
“UMLC seeks to ensure Minnesota voting laws adhere to our constitution, which makes clear that all civil rights must be restored to those convicted of felonies before they are eligible to vote again. Felons on supervised release, work release or probation do not meet these requirements,” said UMLC Senior Trial Counsel James Dickey. “If the legislature wants to fundamentally change our constitution, they have an avenue to do that and can put a constitutional amendment before the people of Minnesota.”
“The framers of our Minnesota Constitution believed in redemption and provided felons with a “second chance” for voting. But that second chance does not happen unless they complete their entire sentence. When their debt has been repaid, and only in full, the last right they have restored is the right to vote. Felons on supervised release, probation, or work release have not been fully restored to their civil rights, and therefore, are not legally able to participate in our electoral process,” says Andy Cilek, President of the Minnesota Voters Alliance.