Two national Democratic groups filed a lawsuit against Minnesota Thursday in an effort to eliminate the state’s “unconstitutional” restrictions on voter assistance.
Under current state law, no person may help more than three voters complete their in-person or absentee ballots. State Rep. Samantha Vang (DFL-Brooklyn Park) introduced a bill last session to strike the restriction from law, but it failed to pass out of the Senate.
Secretary of State Steve Simon, who is named as the defendant in Thursday’s lawsuit, expressed support for Vang’s bill and predicted that Minnesota would be on the “losing side of any legal challenge.”
The lawsuit was filed in Ramsey County District Court by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).
“One of the most important parts of a representative democracy is ensuring the ballot box is accessible to all eligible voters, that includes people facing language barriers and those with disabilities,” Vang said in a statement. “I hope to see this unjust law changed, either through the courts or the legislative process.”
The lawsuit argues that the “voter assistance bans” directly contradict federal law, which requires that “any voter who requires assistance to vote by reason of blindness, disability, or inability to read or write may be given assistance by a person of the voter’s choice.”
“In addition to undermining Minnesotans’ rights under the Voting Rights Act, the Voter Assistance Bans unduly burden Minnesotans’ right to vote—a right that is fundamental under the Minnesota and federal constitutions. The Voter Assistance Bans especially impact Minnesota’s sizable language-minority communities, including Hmong and Somali Americans, as well as Minnesotans with disabilities,” the lawsuit adds.
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), chair of the DSCC, said the Minnesota law “discriminates against older Americans, people with disabilities, and non-English speakers.”
“There’s no place in our society for laws that make it harder for older Americans, non-English speakers and people with disabilities to cast their ballots,” said DCCC Chairwoman Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17). “We should be working to increase access to the ballot, not restrict it. We’ll continue fighting voter suppression laws across the country that discriminate against Americans trying to make their voices heard in our democracy.”
The DSCC and the DCCC noted that the lawsuit is part of an “eight-figure commitment” they have made to “fighting voter suppression in battleground states across the country.” The two groups have filed lawsuits in eight states, including North Carolina, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Arizona, and Minnesota.
They recently won a lawsuit in South Carolina challenging the state’s requirement that potential voters provide their full nine-digit Social Security number when registering to vote.
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