OLMSTED COUNTY, Minn. - The Minnesota Voters Alliance, the Republican Party of Minnesota, State Representative Duane Quam, and several election judges filed a petition for the Olmsted County District Court to order the County of Olmsted to change how it appoints members to the absentee ballot review board for the upcoming November elections.
The MVA believes the county is violating State statute 203B.121. In particular, the party balance requirement: "No more than half of the election judges in a precinct may be members of the same major political party unless the election board consists of an odd number of election judges, in which case the number of election judges who are members of the same major political party may be one more than half the number of election judges in that precinct."
The MVA says the county is using its employees to serve in these positions, and it's a conflict of interests when election judges are rejecting ballots.
"Minnesotans are good people, and they're very trusting people. From the people we've talked to, people don't even realize that the people counting all these ballots, the mail in ballots coming in, are people the legislature said could not accept and reject absentee ballots," Minnesota Voters Alliance executive director Andrew Cilek tells KIMT.
The MVA's website says it is "A nonpartisan organization focusing primarily on election integrity, research, voter education and advocacy. We seek to increase voter participation in the election process and raise public awareness of important issues related to elections."
The Minnesota Voters Alliance is filing similar lawsuits against the City of Minneapolis, the City of Duluth, and Ramsey County. The Minnesota Supreme Court ordered to consolidate these petitions, so the matter will be handled with the Ramsey County District Court Judge.
"We need to find ways to work together to have elections full of integrity and the Olmsted County Board and these staff members are law violators and they need to stop," says Erick Kaardal of Mohrman, Kaardal & Erickson, P.A. , the attorney representing the MVA. "The Olmsted County Board should be ashamed of itself not to be able to follow fairly simple directions from the state legislature in respect to how the absentee ballot boards are to be appointed."
The Olmsted County Attorney's Office made the following statement to KIMT: "“We are aware that a lawsuit has been filed but have not yet been served with the paperwork. We cannot provide any further comment at this time.”