GOP fights Democratic lawsuit to relax Minnesota voting laws

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Two arms of the Republican Party are trying to intervene in a state-level lawsuit filed by Democrats in Minnesota that they say aims to weaken state laws designed to protect electoral integrity.

The original legal complaint in the case, known as Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) v. Simon, was filed Jan. 17 in Ramsey County District Court in Minnesota. The Republican Party of Minnesota and the Republican National Committee filed a motion to intervene in the legal proceeding on March 10.

The legal move is part of a $10 million push by Republicans to combat Democrats’ current legal stratagem challenging election laws in battleground states important to President Donald Trump’s reelection effort.

“The RNC is aggressively fighting back against the Democrats’ attempts to sue their way to victory in 2020,” said Ronna McDaniel, chairman of the Republican National Committee, as reported by The Washington Examiner.

“Democrats know they can’t beat President Trump at the ballot box, so they are trying to use our courts for partisan political gain,” she said.

“These Democrat lawsuits aren’t about making it easier to vote, but rather are an attempt to score cheap political points while watering down common-sense laws that bring order to our elections process.”

The legal activity in Minnesota comes after Republicans in Michigan, a state Trump narrowly won in 2016, filed to intervene in a lawsuit launched by Priorities USA, a super PAC allied with Democrats, that seeks to strike down state laws Democrats argue create unnecessary obstacles to voting. Republicans claim that ending current Michigan laws preventing paid organizers from driving voters to the polls and assisting voters in submitting absentee ballot applications open the door to electoral fraud.

Both parties are keeping a close eye on Minnesota, traditionally a stronghold for Democrats.

Trump came a lot closer to victory in Minnesota in 2016 than most prognosticators thought possible, losing to Democrat Hillary Clinton by 1.5 percentage points, or 44,765 votes, out of close to 3 million ballots cast. By contrast, in 2012, incumbent Democrat Barack Obama beat Republican Mitt Romney by 7.7 percentage points, or 225,942 votes, out of more than 2.9 million ballots cast.

In the Minnesota litigation, Republicans are trying to protect the state’s ban on “ballot harvesting” and the state’s voter protection law.

Ballot harvesting, a pejorative term apparently coined by Republicans, is when organized workers or volunteers collect absentee ballots from voters and deliver those ballots to a polling place. They say the tactic helped California’s Democrats defeat many Republican candidates, including incumbents, turning the state’s congressional delegation deep blue in 2018.

Then-Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed a law in 2016 that allowed anyone to pick up a mail-in ballot from voters and deliver it to a polling station. Prior law allowed only relatives or those residing in the same household as the voter to deliver ballots.

The Epoch Times reached out to the litigants in the Minnesota case, the DSCC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Secretary of State Steve Simon, a Democrat, for comment, but had not received a reply as of press time.

DSCC Chair Catherine Cortez Masto, a U.S. senator from Nevada, said her organization’s lawsuit was needed to protect voting rights.

“These unfair and illegal obstacles to voting undermine the promise that every eligible voter can make their voice heard, and they do so in a way that discriminates against older Americans, people with disabilities, and non-English speakers,” she said in a statement.

“We are working to overturn these unconstitutional restrictions because we are committed to making it easier for every American to participate in our democracy.”

The RNC, supported by the president’s reelection campaign, is also litigating ballot integrity issues in Arizona, California, and Florida.

This article by Matthew Vadum appeared March 15, 2020, in The Epoch Times.