Mon. May 20th, 2024

From today’s AP News:

A pro-Trump Minnesota judge declared a new state law restoring voting rights for convicted felons unconstitutional, drawing a sharp rebuke from Minnesota’s attorney general and secretary of state who said he overstepped his authority and urged residents to vote anyway.

Mille Lacs County District Judge Matthew Quinn declared the law unconstitutional in a pair of orders last week in which he sentenced two offenders to probation, but warned them they are not eligible to vote or register to vote — even though the law says they are. It was an unusual step because nobody involved in those cases ever asked him to rule on the constitutionality of the law.

In his orders, Quinn, concluded the Legislature’s passage of the law did not constitute the kind of “affirmative act” he said was needed to properly restore a felon’s civil rights. So he said he now has a duty going forward to “independently evaluate the voting capacity” of felons when they complete probation.

Attorney General Keith Ellison and Secretary of State Steve Simon said in a joint statement that Quinn’s orders “fly in the face of the Legislature’s passage of the Restore the Vote Act.”

“We believe the judge’s orders are not lawful and we will oppose them,” the statement said. “The orders have no statewide impact, and should not create fear, uncertainty, or doubt. In Minnesota, if you are over 18, a U.S. citizen, a resident of Minnesota for at least 20 days, and not currently incarcerated, you are eligible to vote. Period.”

David McKinney, staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, called it “procedurally unprecedented” and said the judge “produced this opinion out of thin air.” McKinney added in a statement that the judge’s orders will likely be “especially harmful” to the large Indigenous population in Mille Lacs County.

The law, which took effect in July, says people with felony convictions regain the right to vote after they have completed any prison term. They said a Minnesota Supreme Court ruling in February affirmed the Legislature has the power to set voting rights.

Read the complete story here.

By Editor