State of Minnesota

Minnesota Witness Requirement Challenge

Minnesota Alliance for Retired Americans v. Simon

Lawsuit filed by the Minnesota Alliance for Retired Americans and two voters against Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon (D) challenging the state’s requirement that absentee voters obtain the signature of a witness to cast an absentee ballot. Under Minnesota law, an absentee ballot must include a “certificate of eligibility,” which is printed on the ballot envelope and signed by a witness who is a registered Minnesota voter, a notary or another individual authorized to administer oaths. The “certificate of eligibility” states that the ballot was presented to the witness unmarked, the voter marked the ballot in the presence of the witness and provided proof of residence if the voter was not already registered to vote in the state. The “certificate of eligibility” must also be signed by the voter stating that all voter eligibility requirements are met. Each absentee ballot is reviewed by at least two members of the local ballot board, who may only accept the ballot if the “certificate of eligibility” is deemed complete. 

The plaintiffs argue that the Minnesota law violates Section 201 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), which bars states from denying an individual’s right to vote due to a “failure to comply with any test or device,” including voucher requirements. The plaintiffs also allege that the state’s practice violates the Civil Rights Act’s Materiality Provision, which prohibits a state from denying an individual’s right to vote based on trivial errors or mistakes. The plaintiffs ask the court to declare the state’s witness requirement for absentee ballots in violation of the VRA, or alternatively, the Civil Rights Act. The plaintiffs also ask the court to prohibit Minnesota from enforcing the witness requirement. 

STATUS: Minnesota secretary of state’s motion to dismiss and the Republican National Committee and Republican Party of Minnesota’s motion to intervene are in progress. Litigation is ongoing.

Case Documents

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