State of Minnesota

Minnesota Election Misinformation Penalty Challenge

Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Ellison

Lawsuit filed on behalf of the Minnesota Voters Alliance — a conservative group — and three Minnesota residents challenging a provision of Minnesota’s Democracy for the People Act that seeks to combat election misinformation, voter intimidation and harassment. The challenged provision makes it a misdemeanor for an individual to knowingly make “materially false statements” or statements that intend “to impede or prevent another person from exercising the right to vote” within 60 days of an election. Specifically, the provision prohibits the dissemination of false information pertaining to “the time, place, or manner of holding an election; the qualifications for or restrictions on voter eligibility at an election; and threats to physical safety associated with casting a ballot.” 

The plaintiffs allege that under this law, they could be subject to criminal liability for saying that “felons still serving their sentence do not have a right to vote in Minnesota.” The plaintiffs raise this example in light of a recent set of Minnesota laws that restored voting rights to over 50,000 Minnesotans on parole, probation or community release due to a felony conviction. (Notably, the plaintiffs behind this lawsuit are challenging the state’s voting rights restoration legislation in a separate lawsuit. They argue that under the state constitution, individuals convicted of felonies can only regain voting rights after the completion of their entire sentence — including parole, probation or community release.) The plaintiffs therefore claim that the election misinformation law is overly “broad” and “vague,” asserting that it “chills” their speech in violation of their First Amendment rights and 14th Amendment right to Due Process. The plaintiffs additionally argue that the law violates certain provisions of the Minnesota Constitution and ask the court to block its enforcement.  

STATUS: Motions remain pending before the trial court. Litigation is ongoing.

Case Documents

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