UMLC Urges Compliance with Election Law in Several Minnesota Counties

Today, the Upper Midwest Law Center (UMLC) formally addressed letters to the county attorneys for Wabasha, Stearns, Sherburne, and Benton County regarding their recent resolutions on absentee ballot board staffing. 

UMLC, representing the Minnesota Voters Alliance (MVA) and its members who are voters in these counties, reviewed their absentee ballot board resolutions and found that they do not conform to the Minnesota Supreme Court’s decisions on absentee ballot board staffing. The letters also highlight discrepancies between the counties’ resolutions and the Minnesota Secretary of State’s updated guidelines for absentee ballot boards. 

Specifically, the resolutions fail to ensure that election judges, who must be party-balanced by statute, are appointed to the boards as required by Minnesota law. Instead, the resolutions appear to permit ballot boards to be staffed only with deputy county auditors. Some of the counties have attempted to staff their boards, but it is unclear whether those staffing decisions comply with the election-judge requirement of Minnesota law.

This is important because only election judges, balanced by party, can match signatures between ballot return envelopes and ballot applications where the identification number for the return envelope differs from the ballot application. 

“Minnesota’s counties and cities with absentee ballot boards must ensure that they have enough party-balanced election judges to perform crucial signature matches to protect against fraud,” said James Dickey, UMLC Senior Counsel. “Proper staffing of absentee ballot boards with party-balanced election judges is not just a legal requirement; it is essential for maintaining public trust in our electoral system. We urge the counties to rectify these issues promptly to avoid further legal action.”

UMLC has requested a response from the counties by July 9, 2024, to confirm that the absentee ballot board will be properly staffed to include sufficient party-balanced election judges. Failure to comply may result in UMLC seeking immediate mandamus relief to enforce these legal duties.

UPDATE: After our actions, Wabasha and Sherburne Counties promptly informed us of their intention to amend their resolution to conform to the law, and Benton County likewise said they would be reviewing their resolution based on our concerns.

Click here to see the letter sent to the Wabasha County Attorney. 

Click here to see the letter sent to the Stearns County Attorney. 

Click here to see the letter sent to the Sherburne County Attorney. 

Click here to see the letter sent to the Benton County Attorney.

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