Politics and Government

Secretary of State Simon waives witness rule for primary absentee ballots

Milwaukee election commission worker processes and sorts absentee ballots
A city of Milwaukee Election Commission worker processes and sorts absentee ballots for Tuesday's primary election, Wednesday, April 8, in downtown Milwaukee, Wis.
Mark Hoffman | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon is waiving the state’s absentee voting witness requirement for the August 11 primary election.

Simon, a Democrat, made the call after a district court judge signed off last week on a proposed settlement for a lawsuit challenging the rule. However, a federal judge hearing a similar but separate lawsuit this week did not accept the agreement.

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon.
Tim Pugmire | MPR News 2017

Early voting for the primary begins Friday.

Simon said he will follow the state court.

“The ruling yesterday does not affect last week’s primary state court ruling that this arrangement and this settlement agreement is fair, it’s adequate, it’s reasonable, it’s in the public interest,” Simon said. “We’re bound by that ruling. We can’t choose not to abide by the ruling.”

The political arms of the Minnesota Alliance for Retired Americans and the League of Women Voters-Minnesota brought the lawsuits, claiming that the absentee ballot rules put voters at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The rules have not been changed for the November general election.

Last week, Republican legislators blasted Simon for trying to settle the lawsuits rather than fight them. They contend Simon undermined a bipartisan agreement on the election bill enacted earlier this year.