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Online voter registration in Minnesota

Online voter registration in Minnesota

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Online voter registration in Minnesota
Online voter registration in Minnesota

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Published by: Minnesota Public Radio on Dec 04, 2013
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STATE OF MINNESOTA DISTRICT COURT RAMSEY COUNTY SECOND JUDICIAL DISTRICT Case Type: Civil Minnesota Voters Alliance, Minnesota Majority, Minnesota House of Representative Steve Drazkowski, Minnesota House of Representative Ernie Leidiger, Minnesota House of Representative Mary Franson and House of Representative Jim Newberger, Petitioners, v. State of Minnesota and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, in his official capacity, or his successor, Respondents. Court File No. 62-CV-13-7718 Judge John H. Guthmann
RESPONDENT SECRETARY OF STATE’S MEMORANDUM OF LAW IN OPPOSITION TO PETITIONERS’ QUO WARRANTO PETITION INTRODUCTION
On September 26, 2013, Respondent Secretary of State Mark Ritchie (hereinafter “the Secretary”) announced the creation of a new tool on the Office of Secretary of State’s website that permits Minnesotans to submit their voter registration applications directly to the Office. Petitioners have brought this action seeking to prevent Minnesota voters from accessing this method of delivery. Petitioners also seek to nullify the registrations of eligible voters who have already used the system to register to vote. As an initial matter, the State of Minnesota is not a proper party. Petitioners also lack standing to bring the instant action, so the Court lacks jurisdiction to consider the Petition. Even if this Court has jurisdiction, the Petition fails because the challenged action is within the Secretary’s authority under Minnesota law, which permits the Secretary to accept voter registration applications that are submitted electronically. Indeed, Minnesota has long accepted
 
2 electronic voter registrations. Finally, the remedies sought by Petitioners greatly exceed those permitted by a writ of quo warranto. The Court should deny Petitioners’ Petition for Writ of Quo Warranto.
FACTS
Minnesotans have a constitutionally protected right to vote. The Minnesota Constitution provides that “[e]very person 18 years of age or more who has been a citizen of the United States for three months and who has resided in the precinct for 30 days next preceding an election shall be entitled to vote in that precinct.” Minn. Const. art. VII, § 1;
see also id.
 (listing persons not entitled to vote, such as “a person who has been convicted of treason or felony, unless restored to civil rights”).
See also
 U.S. Const. amends. XV, XIX, XXVI; Minn. Stat. § 201.014 (“[A]n individual who meets the following requirements at the time of an election is eligible to vote . . . (a) be 18 years of age or older; (b) be a citizen of the United States; and (c) maintain residence in Minnesota for 20 days immediately preceding the election.”). Registration is not required by either the State or federal Constitution.
 Id 
. Minnesota statutes, however, impose registration as a procedural prerequisite for exercising the franchise. Minn. Stat. § 201.018, subd. 2 (“An eligible voter must register in a manner specified by section 201.054, in order to vote in any primary, special primary, general, school district, or special election held in the county.”).
A.
 
Voter Registration in Minnesota.
Prospective Minnesota voters register to vote by complying with the application requirements set forth in Minnesota law. Minn. Stat. §§ 201.018; 201.054, subd. 1; 201.061, subds. 1 and 3. The voter registration application is required to include information such as the voter’s name, address, and date of birth. Minn. Stat. § 201.071, subd. 1. Typically, the application will include either a current and valid Minnesota driver’s license number or state
 
3 identification number, or, if a voter has neither, the last four digits of the voter’s Social Security number.
 Id.
 The application also must include a “certification of voter eligibility” and the voter’s signature.
 Id 
. Under state law, a registration application meeting the above requirements cannot be deemed deficient. Minn. Stat. § 201.071, subd. 3. Furthermore, “[n]o eligible voter may be prevented from voting unless the voter’s registration application is deficient or the voter is duly and successfully challenged in accordance with section 201.195 or 204C.12.”
 Id.
 These referenced provisions permit challenges solely based on a voter’s residence or eligibility.
See
 Minn. Stat. §§ 201.195, subd. 1; 204C.12, subd. 1. State law provides Minnesota voters with various mechanisms for completing and submitting registration applications to election officials. Prospective voters, as well as current voters who need to change their registration information, may complete and submit an application. (
See
Minnesota Voter Registration Application,
attached to
Affidavit of Gary Poser (hereinafter “Poser Aff.”) as Ex. A.) Voters have traditionally completed applications either by (1) completing the application at a state or county elections office; (2) mailing the application to an elections office; or (3) filling out the application and giving it to a third-party agency, organization, or individual. In the latter case, the third-party agency, organization, or individual then submits the application to the relevant elections office.
See, e.g.,
Minn. Stat. § 201.061, subd. 1 (“A state or local agency or an individual that accepts completed voter registration applications from a voter must submit the completed applications to the secretary of state or the appropriate county auditor within ten

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