Democracy is Dying in Minnesota
In order to independently determine the true extent of voter fraud in Minnesota’s elections, the Minnesota Voters Alliance initiated a lawsuit aimed at forcing the secretary of state to comply with the Minnesota Data Practices Act by releasing the millions of records on “inactive” voters as well as the government-assigned voter statuses that identify voters who have failed eligibility checks. Prior to 2008, this information was routinely provided to the public on request. That changed after the 2008 election, when independent research by Minnesota Majority demonstrated, among other problems, that at least 1,000 ineligible persons voted, leading to hundreds of voter fraud convictions. This, when our US Senate race was decided by just 312 votes, giving Al Franken the 60th vote needed to sweep in Obamacare. After that embarrassing revelation, the secretary of state’s office clamped down, refusing to release public election data crucial for that type of research.
In a stunning, nonsensical and completely partisan 5-2 decision, the Minnesota Supreme Court today ruled that the Secretary of State may now unilaterally decide what election data is released to the public. All justices appointed by Democrat governors agreed to give Democrat Secretary of State Steve Simon this unfettered authority to conceal key election data from public scrutiny. He is thus granted authority to arbitrarily share data with his friends and withhold the same data from others as he chooses.
While the court refused to order the secretary to release the requested data, it did not determine that he could not. The culmination of state court rulings (consisting of two prior losses for the secretary and this reversal by the Minnesota Supreme Court) means, however, that the secretary cannot hide behind statutes or past court opinions as excuses not to release the data. Indeed, the high court has affirmed that he has the discretion to release the disputed data at the center of the case if he so wishes!
The secretary of state is a partisan, elected official and as such, should be held to the highest standards of transparency and accountability. After all, he presides over the elections of himself and his fellow party members. With today’s ruling, the entire populous of Minnesota is now told to simply take this one man’s word on published election results. I asked before, “what is the secretary of state trying to hide?” Now, thanks to his allies on the state’s high court, we’ll never know, unless Secretary Simon himself relents and agrees to allow public scrutiny of the disputed election records.
Writing for the 2-judge dissent, Chief Justice Gildea concluded:
In sum, the majority’s holding gives the Secretary of State discretion to classify voter registration data as not public, even if the data is not designated by any statute as not public. This holding conflicts with the central tenet of the Data Practices Act that “all ‘government data’ shall be public unless otherwise classified by statute[.]” Demers v. City of Minneapolis, 468 N.W.2d 71, 73 (Minn. 1991). Decisions about the classification of government data and public access to voter registration data are policy matters for the Legislature. As the majority recognizes, if the law needs revision, “the Legislature, not the judiciary, must be the reviser.” Axelberg v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety, 848 N.W.2d 206, 213 (Minn. 2014). Accordingly, I would affirm the court of appeals and conclude that respondents are entitled to the disputed data because the data is public under the Data Practices Act.
In a statement, the Minnesota Voters Alliance renewed it’s call for the secretary of state to release the data. “Unfortunately, it appears that Secretary Simon is determined to continue his obstruction of voting records needed to assess the full extent of ineligible voting in Minnesota and will not be releasing these public records any time soon,” said Andy Cilek, Executive Director of the Minnesota Voters Alliance.
Election results published by a partisan elected official that can not be independently verified are less than worthless. We have become a banana republic. Without transparency, there is no real purpose to casting a ballot in state elections.
Without transparency, voting in Minnesota becomes comparable to playing blackjack blindfolded and being required to trust the dealer (who’s betting against you) to tell you what cards turn up. Would you make that bet?
We must not accept these untenable circumstances. The act of voting is being made a mockery until either the secretary relents and releases all election data that is not explicitly classified as private by statute or a federal court so orders after further appeal.
URGENT! TAKE ACTION: For the survival of democracy in Minnesota, contact the secretary of state and demand that he release the full set of data requested by Minnesota Voters Alliance as the courts have found he is legally permitted to do.
Office of the Secretary of State
180 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, MN 55155-1299