Voters Challenge Minnesota’s Absentee Ballot Witness Requirement 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Yesterday, the Minnesota Alliance for Retired Americans, a nonprofit organization of retired trade union members, and two voters filed a lawsuit challenging Minnesota’s absentee ballot witness requirement. 

In Minnesota, voters casting an absentee ballot must have a registered Minnesota voter, notary or other official sign their absentee ballot as a “witness.”

The plaintiffs allege that the absentee ballot witness requirement violates Section 201 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), which prohibits denying the right to vote on the basis of a citizen’s failure to comply with a “test or device,” including the “requirement that a person as a prerequisite for voting…prove his qualifications by the voucher of registered voters or members of any other class.” According to the lawsuit, the witness requirement constitutes an unlawful “test or device” under Section 201 because it requires that a person prove their qualifications by using a voucher of a registered voter. 

Alternatively, the plaintiffs argue that the state’s witness requirement contravenes the Materiality Provision of the Civil Rights Act, which protects against disenfranchisement on the basis of trivial errors that are unrelated to a voter’s eligibility. The plaintiffs ask the court to block the enforcement of Minnesota’s witness requirement for absentee ballots ahead of the 2024 election in November.

In addition to this lawsuit, Democracy Docket is tracking another lawsuit that uses Section 201 to challenge witness requirements for absentee ballots in Wisconsin. Two other lawsuits currently on appeal also challenge parts of Wisconsin’s witness requirement.

Read the complaint.

Learn more about the case here.