The Upper Midwest Law Center (UMLC), on behalf of Minnesota Voters Alliance, requested to file an amicus brief to the Minnesota Court of Appeals supporting Mille Lacs County judge Matthew M. Quinn’s order declaring that the recently passed felon voting law violates the Minnesota Constitution.
Under Article VII, Section 1 of the Minnesota Constitution, individuals convicted of a felony may not vote unless “restored to civil rights.” And the Minnesota Supreme Court has already explained that restoration does not occur until those “civil rights”—plural—are restored. That does not happen under Minnesota’s new voting law, which only attempts to grant felons still under a sentence but on supervised release or parole the singular “civil right to vote” in elections. UMLC and MVA simply argue that no law in direct conflict with what the Constitution requires can stand.
One Minnesota judge already agrees. Last week, Mille Lacs County District Judge Matthew M. Quinn ruled that the new voting law is unconstitutional while issuing felony sentences. However, the felons have already sought to undo that ruling by seeking a “writ of prohibition” from the Minnesota Court of Appeals, and the Attorney General and American Civil Liberties Union have already jumped in to support the felons. The Mille Lacs County Attorney, who prosecuted the cases before Judge Quinn, does not plan to defend the ruling.
That is why UMLC is stepping in. We are committed to safeguarding election integrity in Minnesota and fighting for every Minnesotan’s right to fair and secure elections. And we will not stand by while the Minnesota Constitution goes undefended. UMLC, on behalf of the plaintiffs, has already filed a lawsuit directly challenging this law and will be arguing in court on October 30, 2023. We are directly taking on the Secretary of State and the American Civil Liberties Union in that lawsuit.
“Minnesota’s founders agreed that when someone is convicted of a felony before a jury of their peers, they lose the right to vote until they are fully restored to their civil rights. At the very least, that means the right to vote, hold office, and sit on a jury,” said James Dickey, Senior Counsel for UMLC. “The Legislature can’t change that. Only the people of Minnesota can. We think Judge Quinn’s analysis was right, and we hope the Court of Appeals grants our request to say why.”