The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit heard arguments Wednesday in a voting rights case involving Crow Wing County, but no action was taken.
Jessica Schwie, the attorney who is representing Crow Wing County Attorney Don Ryan and Crow Wing County Auditor-Treasurer Laureen Borden, said no time line was given regarding when the court might make a decision in the matter.
The lawsuit, filed by the Minnesota Voters Alliance, the Minnesota Freedom Council, Sondra Erickson, Montgomery Jensen, Ron Kaus, Jodi Lyn Nelson, Sharon Stene as guardian and friend for her son, James Stene, Richard M. Smisson and Kathleen M. Olson, is challenging aspects of the state’s same-day election registration.
Schwie is an attorney with the Jardine, Logan and O’Brien law firm of St Paul.
Andy Cilek, president and co-founder of the Minnesota Voters Alliance, said his attorneys thought it could be about three months before the court makes a decision in the case. He said he thought it was a good sign that the court chose to hear oral arguments and allowed each side 20 minutes instead of the customary 15 minutes.
“We feel that things went very well,” Cilek said.
In addition to Ryan and Borden, also named as defendants in the case were Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, representatives of Ramsey County and Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson.
The case’s origin traces back, in part, to a complaint filed in Crow Wing County just before the 2010 election in Crow Wing County. Jensen alleged he witnessed group home residents vote with assistance he contended was improper.
A Crow Wing County jury investigated the voting rights issues raised by Jensen in October of 2011 and no indictments were issued after 2 1/2 days of testimony.
The Minnesota Voters Alliance’s lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge in August of 2012 and later appealed by plaintiffs to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
In a news release, Cilek said his group’s legal argument is that the state exceeds the limits of its authority when it allows Election Day registrants to vote without determining whether they are eligible or not.