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Unfit Voters Registered at Polls, Minnesotans Says

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CN) — A political gadfly sued Minnesota last week, claiming its secretary of state is ignoring court-ordered disenfranchisement of felons, the mentally handicapped and noncitizens.

Kirk Stensrud, a one-term Republican member of the statehouse from 2011 to 2013, and the Minnesota Voters Alliance brought the 113-page petition in Ramsey County District Court on Oct. 4. Ramsey is the home of the state capital, St. Paul.

Stensrud claims that voting officials are notified of the ineligibility of every felon and noncitizen in the state, but routinely disregard the court-ordered restrictions and let them vote anyway.

The Minnesota Voters Alliance claims on its website that there are two ways election officials let ineligible people vote on Election Day. Felons and other ineligible people can register and vote on site because election officials do not check the restriction lists generated by state courts. And election officials permit "self-certification," meaning that any felon on the poll roster can vote if he swears he is eligible.

"Without any statutory basis or authority, the Minnesota secretary of state allows ineligible persons, those who have court-restricted voting rights, to vote if they simply 'swear' they are eligible," the alliance's director Andrew Cilek says.

"These continuing wrongful acts exceed the clear limits that the Minnesota Constitution places on election officials. They violate our state's statutes and defy the unequivocal court orders that direct election officials to withhold ballots from certain individuals, including convicted felons."

Stensrud and the alliance's new filing comes just a week after the Minnesota Supreme Court dismissed a similar petition seeking original jurisdiction.

A spokesman for the Secretary of State Steve Simon said his office does not comment on pending litigation.

"However," spokesman Ryan Furlong said in an email, "Minnesota has a proud and bipartisan 40-year history of same-day voter registration that has led to some of the highest turnout in the nation, and we don't expect that to change."

Minnesota is one of 13 states that allow Election Day registration and voting.

Stensrud is represented by Erick Kaardal, with Mohrman, Kaardal & Erickson, in Minneapolis.

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