MN Can Keep Registering Election Day Voters

     ST. LOUIS (CN) – Opponents of a Minnesota law that lets citizens register to vote on Election Day lack standing to allege a constitutional violation, the 8th Circuit ruled.
     Under Minnesota law, an individual may register to vote at any time before the 20th day preceding any election; on the day of an election; or when submitting an absentee ballot, by enclosing a completed registration application.
     To register before an election day, the individual must give their county auditor or the Minnesota Secretary of State a completed voter registration application (VRA) at least 20 days before the election. That application must include the individual’s personal information and certification of voter eligibility. To register on the day of an election, an individual must appear in person, complete a VRA, take an oath and provide proof of residence.
     The Minnesota Voters Alliance, the Minnesota Freedom Council and seven individuals challenged under the First, Fifth, Ninth and 14th Amendments. They argued that, by allowing Election Day registrants (EDRs) the right to vote without completely verifying their eligibility, these individuals could improperly cast votes that cannot be taken back.
     A federal judge tossed the suit for failure to state a claim, lack of standing and failure to exhaust administrative remedies.
     The 8th Circuit affirmed last week.
     “At their base, voters’ claims are premised on potential harm in the form of vote dilution caused by insufficient preelection verification of EDRs’ voting eligibility and the absence of post-election ballot rescission procedures,” Judge Roger Wollman wrote for a three-member panel. “Voters raised no allegations of the ‘aggravating factors’ identified in Pettengill; they alleged no discriminatory or other intentional, unlawful misconduct by officials sufficient to implicate § 1983. Nor did they allege defects causing Minnesota’s voting system to be so ‘fundamentally unfair’ that relief under § 1983 may be appropriate. ‘A canvass of substantive due process cases related to voting rights reveals that voters can challenge a state election procedure in federal court only in limited circumstances, such as when the complained of conduct discriminates against a discrete group of voters, when election officials refuse to hold an election though required by state law, resulting in a complete disenfranchisement, or when the willful and illegal conduct of election officials results in fraudulently obtained or fundamentally unfair voting results.’ … Accordingly, voters cannot prevail on their § 1983 claims based on officials’ failure to verify EDRs’ voting eligibility before allowing EDRs to cast their votes.”
     Judges Diana Murphy and Lavenski Smith concurred with Wollman.

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