MN Supreme Court to hear felon voting case

Courts building
The Minnesota Judicial Center in downtown St. Paul.
MPR News 2009

The Minnesota Supreme Court will wade into a long-running dispute over restoration of voting rights to people with felony records, agreeing to hear a constitutional challenge to state law.

Minnesota is among the states that requires people convicted of felonies to serve their time and complete any parole, probation or supervised release before they can vote again.

In an order posted Tuesday, Minnesota’s highest court agreed to hear the legal challenge that could impact more than 50,000 people who aren’t behind bars but can’t vote.

An effort to change the law to restore voting privileges after incarceration has stalled in the Legislature. 

A group of affected people and civil liberties groups have challenged the law on constitutional grounds, but so far have come up short. The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled in May that release from confinement doesn’t satisfy completion of a sentence under the way the law is currently written; the appellate judges deferred to state lawmakers for any shift in course.

The Supreme Court hasn’t yet set a date for oral arguments, meaning a final ruling is likely several months away.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.