Conservatives Sue to Campaign in Polling Places
As you can see here, a group of conservative political activists is suing the State and Hennepin and Ramsey Counties. Why? Because they believe that they have the right to engage in political campaigning and voter intimidation at polling places. They believe this despite the long, positive history of bans on overt political speech and campaigning in polling places in Minnesota.
They are making the laughable claim that "the Tea Party and Minnesota Majority are not political groups." Do they actually believe that? Do they really expect anyone else to believe that? Despite the fact that there are numerous Republican candidates for office overtly running as "Tea Party" endorsees, and that there is a Tea Party Caucus of the Republican Party at the national level, and that there are several groups with "Tea Party" in their names funnelling corporate dollars into ads on behalf of Republican candidates? Even a cursory look at the Minnesota Majority website shows that they are an ultra-conservative political organization, pushing a radical right-wing agenda and directly targeting Democratic candidates. Their legislative scorecard's "heroes" are 100% Republican. These are political groups.
Worse, their real agenda is to make it more difficult for every person who does not agree with them to participate in our democracy. Because people of color tend to vote for candidates they hate, they seek to enact laws that will make it harder for people of color to vote. Having failed that - because the people of Minneapolis and Minnesota are too moderate and intelligent to go along with their antidemocratic schemes - they now want to "take matters into their own hands" (in their own vigilante words!). They want to go into polling places wearing buttons featuring an ominous Big-Brother-style eye over the words "election integrity watch," in order to intimidate voters. All with the goal of making the sorts of people who vote for progressive candidates too fearful to participate in the political process.
That sort of mob rule despicable, it's wrong, and it's illegal. Kudos to our nonpartisan election staff at all levels - State, County and municipal - for following the law and standing up to these bullies by banning their intimidation tactics from polling places, thereby keeping the polling place a safe space for all. Kudos also to Representative Ellison for attending their press conference and standing up to them in person. I am confident that our elections staff will prevail over this frivolous lawsuit.
One of the facts that gives me confidence for the elections administrators' success in court is that these right-wingers are being represented by the same conservative Minnesota Voters Alliance that sued the City of Minneapolis over ranked choice voting and lost at all levels. The attorney quoted in MPR's story is the same attorney who led the unsuccessful suit against the City. These guys have a clear track record of failure.
I am also given confidence by the fact that these radical conservatives' own description of their voter intimidation program makes it clear that it's political campaigning. They call it a "campaign" on their website. They note that they are attempting to place a question on the ballot (unsuccessfully - see here) to require identification to vote. Here are their own words: "The program also promotes requiring photo ID to vote. The top of the buttons are emblazoned, 'Please ID Me.' Andy Cilek, president of the Minnesota Voters Alliance said his group has been working on a petition drive to bring a photo ID requirement to Minnesota’s charter cities."
Sorry, folks, but that's a political campaign. So feel free to attempt to gather signatures (here's hoping you have as little success as you've had to date), bloviate on your websites, knock on doors, et cetera. Go ahead and campaign for the changes you'd like to see and the candidates you'd like to win. But please, have the common decency and respect for the democratic process to keep your campaigning out of the polling place, the way everyone else does.
And please, cut it out with the frivolous lawsuits. Those are our tax dollars you're wasting.