MN Supreme Court lets Duluth DFLer’s Senate win stand

People stand at voting booths.
People voting in Mankato, Minn. Minnesota Supreme Court Justices rejected what they decided were vague and unsupported allegations of election irregularities in the 2020 election.
Jackson Forderer for MPR News 2020

The Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a holdover legal case from the 2020 election that challenged a DFLer’s state Senate win, while drawing a line for judicial involvement in scrutinizing certified results.

Democrat Jen McEwen won the Duluth-area race by a two-to-one margin. That didn’t stop Republican Donna Bergstrom from filing an election contest that claimed irregularities.

A lower court turned the case aside and now the state’s highest court has, too.

In an opinion outlining the decision, Chief Justice Lorie Gildea wrote that the challenge had technical flaws, contained vague allegations and failed to justify a deeper ballot inspection.

Gildea wrote that Bergstrom’s assertions about election judges, absentee ballots and voting software “are simply too vague to warrant embarking upon the discovery and trial process she seeks. We have rejected vague and general allegations that essentially challenge the validity of an election.”

The case makes clear the Supreme Court won’t order widespread inspection of ballots, voter rolls, and election materials absent compelling allegations that can be backed up in court.

Gildea wrote that those weren’t evident in this case, and that “we will not lightly disturb the canvassed, certified, and recounted results of a fair election in the absence of allegations that comply with the well-established pleading standard for election contests. This is because once ascertained, ‘the most important consideration’ is to give effect to `the will of the voters.’”

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