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. 

On June 14, the court denied the plaintiffs’ motion for a temporary injunction, but allowed the case to go forward. The court also denied the Republican National Committee’s motion to intervene in the case. On July 15, the secretary of state filed a petition in the Minnesota Court of Appeals to review the trial court’s decision denying his motion to dismiss.

STATUS: On July 15, 2024, the Minnesota secretary of state asked the Minnesota Court of Appeals to review the trial court’s order denying his motion to dismiss. Litigation remains ongoing in the trial court.

Case Documents (Trial Court)

Case Documents (Court of Appeals)

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