Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here:

Monday, November 01, 2010

Conservatives Now Willing to Break Law to Campaign at Polling Places

Seems I was right. The Minnesota judicial system has, in its wisdom, refused to grant the restraining order sought by the Tea Party/Minnesota Majority/Minnesota Voter's Alliance that would have prevented elections officials from doing a vital part of their jobs: preventing campaigning in polling places.

However, that doesn't seem to be stopping these folks. As you can read here, they've sent out this advice to their followers:

“For now, we are recommending that you proceed with wearing your Election Integrity buttons or Tea Party apparel to the polls, knowing you are within your rights, but don’t allow yourself to be disenfranchised. If you are challenged by an election judge because of what you are wearing, you’ll have a decision to make. You can simply remove or cover the challenged item and you’ll be allowed to vote, or you can refuse and demand your right to vote and the election judge will allow you to vote, while also recording your name and you could be charged with a petty misdemeanor.”

So, just to recap: right-wing groups have started a political campaign (including petition drives to place questions on the ballot in Minneapolis and St. Paul), the purpose of which is ostensibly to combat people doing illegal things at polling places. And they are now their followers to... do something illegal at their polling places. Elections administrators, County Attorneys, the Secretary of State and now the courts have all weighed in and made clear that what they want to do is against the law. They're telling people to do it anyway.

And if their followers get caught doing what they were told to do, they'll have a "decision to make." (And then there's the delicious irony of these folks telling their supporters not to risk being disenfranchised, when the whole point of their program is to disenfranchise others.)

All of the above makes abundantly clear that the organizers of this political campaign have now violated election law. Specifically, Statute 211B.11, subdivision 1: "A person may not provide political badges, political buttons, or other political insignia to be worn at or about the polling place on the day of a primary or election." That's exactly what they've done, and it's illegal.

As the Photo ID issue moves forward, everyone on all sides of the argument should be clear that its leading proponents who are more than willing to violate the letter and spirit of election law to get what they want. They're lawbreakers, and should be treated as such.

I hope that whatever fines they face help defray the cost of their frivolous lawsuit.

And I'm fully confident that our able Minneapolis election judges, trained by our highly professional elections administrators, will fairly and evenly enforce the ban on political paraphernelia in polling places. Please don't plan to wear something to your polling place. No matter who you are, no matter your viewpoint, they'll just make you take it off.

And besides, nothing you might don will be as meaningful as that little red "I Voted" sticker.


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