Minnesota Voters Alliance ● P.O. Box 4602 ● Saint Paul, MN 55104
Minnesota temperatures are freezing but the activities of your Minnesota Voters Alliance (MVA) are hot!
As I write this, we just filed a federal lawsuit against Minneapolis and St. Paul last Wednesday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals is deliberating our data practices lawsuit, we are in deep contact with legislators regarding Secretary Simon’s attempts to further undermine our elections, and our speaking schedule is exploding.
Keep in mind that your support made each of these happen.
MVA v St. Paul/Minneapolis
Local governments are at it again, abusing their powers and violating constitutional rights of citizens.
Some years back Ramsey and Hennepin Counties were threatening criminal penalties on those wearing conservative apparel when voting. The U.S. Supreme Court, in Minnesota Voters Alliance (MVA) v Mansky, put an end to that assault on liberty.
Now Minneapolis and St. Paul are threatening landlords with penalties, such as fines and/or loss of license, if they don’t hand out voter registration applications to new tenants. So we are asking the federal courts to once again protect individual First Amendment rights and instruct these city councils on the constitutional limits of their authority.
On February 13, 2019, the MVA and five other plaintiffs, all landlords, filed suit in U.S. District Court challenging the St. Paul and Minneapolis ordinances.
The ordinances violate the landlords’ First Amendment right of Freedom of Speech. The U.S. Constitution prohibits “compelled speech” whereby private citizens are forced to act as couriers of the ideology of city government officials. The view that encouraging people to vote is a good thing to do cannot justify the government’s use of its powers to compel law-abiding citizens to promote that view.
The ordinances are unconstitutional because registering to vote is irrelevant to a tenant’s decision to enter into a lease agreement with a landlord.
These unconstitutional ordinances are based on the idea that renters who want to vote are too incompetent to do so without handholding by the elite politicians who know how those tenants should live their lives.
In both cities, many renters are ineligible to vote. In fact, the sanctuary status of Minneapolis and St. Paul encourages illegal aliens to live there. These ordinances force a landlord to approach non-citizens with official voter registration applications, potentially exposing the landlord to a crime of assisting in voter fraud.
Beyond that, encouraging ineligible people, including felons who have lost the right to vote, to register to vote sends the message that St. Paul and Minneapolis are supportive of ineligible voting.
This federal court action is the only recourse for protecting elections against out-of-control city councils, and the MVA is the only organization in position to take it.
Data Practices Act ‘Voter Data’ lawsuit
On Thursday, January 24, 2019, the Minnesota Voters Alliance (MVA) faced off against Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon before the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
MVA v Simon is a landmark case involving the Secretary’s refusal to provide the public with full voting information on every voter (as the law requires), so the public can effectively evaluate the Secretary of State’s performance and assess the true amount of ineligible voting that continues to occur in our elections.
Despite the 30-degrees-below-zero temperatures, we had a full courtroom, and many more watching the hearing from the court auxiliary room on the first floor of the courthouse.
The issue is whether Mr. Simon will be required to comply with the Ramsey County District Court’s order for him to turn over to the MVA all of the ‘public’ election data from the statewide voter registration system.
It is always true that oral arguments do not give a clear indication of what the final ruling will be, but we feel they went very well for our side. The three-judge panel directed most of its questions to Assistant Attorney General Nathan Hartshorn, the attorney representing the Secretary of State. During the course of this litigation, Hartshorn has presented two basic arguments.
The first of them is full of strained connections and glaring contradictions by which he tries to show that the relevant statute makes the data we seek “non-public.” It might be that the judges, in agreement with the District Court, have already laughed off that approach because it never came up at the hearing.
The Secretary, and his lawyer, must also be aware of how weak their argument is but it hasn’t stopped Mr. Simon from his phony political posturing of claiming he is protecting the citizens’ “private data.”
Hartshorn’s second, and completely contrary, attempt to justify Mr. Simon’s cover-up is to assert that one word, “may” in the statute means the legislature intended to invest the Secretary of State, a political official whose own election is under supervision by his Office, with supreme authority to hand out powerful election data to his friends and not his political opponents.
The judges’ focus was on this outrageous claim by the State that the Secretary has unfettered discretion to either withhold or to release a huge amount of data from the system.
Chief Judge Edward J. Cleary seemed to get to the heart of the problem with the state’s case when he asked Hartshorn (paraphrasing a little), “Am I correct in suggesting the Secretary of State could have made the opposite decision had he chosen to do so?”To which Hartshorn replied (paraphrasing), “Yes, the Secretary did have the authority to provide the information to the MVA.”
That single answer destroys the State’s argument that the data are non-public while, simultaneously, highlighting and admitting that the only reason Simon has for not providing the requested data is “I don’t want to.”We expect a ruling within 90 days.
Minnesota legislative session
January 19,2019, editorial by the Wall Street Journal noted that Democrats in Congress are making election reform their top legislative priority as they seek to “harvest” as many votes as possible for the 2020 election.
Democrats in Minnesota are doing their best by introducing more corrupt election bills than at any time in the past two decades.
We are having some initial successes in educating the public and elected officials on each of those bad bills including allowing felons to vote prior to their civil rights being restored, allowing 16-year-olds to register to vote, automatic voter registration, expanded vouching and early voting, driver’s licenses for illegal aliens, and other radical initiatives.
Your participation down the road will be crucial as we continue our intense efforts to hold State Senators accountable and stop these bills during this legislative session.
MVA’s speaking events: