Court tells election judges to follow law

On the eve of the election, a Ramsey County judge Monday rejected an attempt by three election judges to opt out of providing ballots to eligibility-challenged voters.

In her denial of a temporary restraining order, Second District Judge Shawn Bartsch wrote that election judges who disagree with current state election law should “challenge the law or seek legislative changes,” not disobey it.

A hearing on the motion was held last Friday. The three election judges involved were identified in court documents as Merle Larson of Ramsey County, Donald Bumgarner of Hennepin County and Gerald Kortesmaki of St. Louis County.

The election judges’ challenge stemmed from a Minnesota Voters Alliance lawsuit seeking to change what it sees as a serious flaw in state election policy. The group argues that Secretary of State Steve Simon is wrongly directing election judges to allow eligibility-challenged voters, including felons and non-citizens, to “self-certify” at the polls and receive ballots.

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The alliance has also been circulating a petition among election judges pledging to disobey the state directive.

Judge Bartsch cautioned that such action would “undermine the integrity” of the election process.

Bartch noted that there are “safeguards in place to prevent ineligible persons from voting while recognizing the constitutional right of citizens to vote.”

She said she was “unwilling to issue an order that would prevent even one eligible voter from being able cast his/her vote.”