Ballot Access Inclusion Bill Lawsuit

On February 7, 2019, a press conference was held at the Minnesota State Capitol to announce proposed legislation to reform outdated statutes that prevent Minor Party (or ‘third party’) candidates from getting on ballots. Access to the ballot for state offices should be an equal process for all parties both Major and Minor. We demand changes to the statutes that penalize you by placing barriers and limitations upon your choices.

The most pressing and crucial change include rewording the Candidate Nominating Petition to remove the signer oath penalty, which threatens felony perjury if you intend to vote in the Primary. While it hasn’t happened yet, this could provide legal cover to fine and imprison dissent.

Prior to our first lawsuit in 2019 we crafted and took reform bills to the Minnesota legislature that we are still pushing (originally SF752/HF708 in 2019/2020, which became SF2167/HF1775 in 2021/2022).  In 2020 there was hearing but not a vote! That happens when a committee chair wants to kill a bill before it gets to the floor. Our proposals were written by a Republican Senator, a Democrat Representative, and were endorsed by all other Minor parties.

Being denied a vote on a bill to correct statutes that we believe violate our 1st and 14th Amendments, the Libertarian Party of Minnesota filed the first in what could be a series of lawsuits against the State of Minnesota, with the aide of Minneapolis firm Mohrman, Kaardal & Erickson, P.A. We will challenge the arbitrary and capricious restraints and threats to ‘third party’ candidates. Item #1 is the signer oath, to be followed by expanding the signature collection window (past 14 days), to be followed by the percent rule for government granted and funded party privileges.

The state should not be allowed to stop voices that aren’t in power, simply because they do not align with their pre-existing ideologies. As LPMN attorney Erick Kaardal says, “Major parties are not the only voices of the people in Minnesota.”

The original complaint was against county elections officials, which quickly elevated to the office of the Secretary of State. The case was heard in US District Court in Minneapolis on May 19, 2020 as case #19-cv-2322. The S.O.S. motion to dismiss was granted. In the oral argument the State’s attorney commented that the oath is meaningless and has never been used against a signer, which begs the question why is it there to begin with, complimented by threat of felony perjury? The LPMN appealed this ruling to the US Court of Appeals.

The Eighth Circuit for the US Court of Appeals declared that our complaint had merit and decided to hear our appeal in St. Louis on June 16, 2021. The new federal case number became #20-2244 with the Minnesota Attorney General’s office defending. The 8th Circuit ruled to uphold the lower courts dismissal, with a short opinion that a claim was not stated. Which is baloney, and not an assessment of the matter at hand. So the LPMN is once again appealing, to the last place we can.

A legal filing was made to the Supreme Court of the United States in the month of December, 2021. It will take months to get a response from SCOTUS on whether they will hear this case or not in 2022 versus letting the previous rulings stand. Stay tuned.

Regardless, we will keep challenging these unfair statutes. You can support these efforts by donating to the LPMN Legal Fund.

Original Lawsuit: case #19-cv-2312
Defendants motion to dismiss: #19-cv-2322
US District court ruling to award dismissal: #19-cv-2322
Plaintiff’s appeal brief: case #20-2244
Defendant’s response brief: #20-2244
8th Circuit court ruling to uphold dismissal: #20-2244

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