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Information & Analysis

Minnesota Supreme Court order on absentee ballots - brief analysis

The Supreme Court issued a 3-2 decision requiring election officials and both campaigns to agree on a uniform counting standard and allowing only those absentee ballots that both candidates agree were improperly rejected based on the agreed-upon standard to be counted and included in the recount. Presumably, those absentee ballots whose validity the campaigns cannot agree on would be the subject of one or more election contests. Minnesota law explicitly provides for correction of obvious errors by county officials where the two candidates agree in writing to the correction. See 204C.38. However, the Court found that 204C.38 and 204C.39, both sections on correction of obvious errors, did not apply. Rather, its decision was based on 204B.44 which allows any individual to petition the Supreme Court to order counties to correct any wrongful act, omission, or error (or show cause for not doing so) by an election official in a state or federal election. See the Supreme Court’s order here on our Coleman v. Ritchie case page. Two justices wrote in dissent. Justice Page’s dissent alleges that the majority’s decision will create the kind of equal protection problem it seeks to avoid by treating valid, legally cast ballots differently based on the arbitrary agreement of candidates and officials. It should be noted that 204B.44 does not require this particular manner of relief. The statute directs the court to order “appropriate relief”.


Edward B. Foley

Of Bouncing Balls and a Big Blue Shift

Edward B. Foley

It is a fortuitous coincidence that the University of Virginia’s Journal of Law & Politics has just published a piece of mine that shows the relevance of the current vote-counting process in Virginia’s Attorney General election to what might happen if the 2016 presidential election turns on a similar vote-counting process in Virginia. 

Read full post here.

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In the News

Daniel P. Tokaji

Ohio treasurer receives OK to host town halls

Professor Daniel Tokaji was quoted in an article from the Associated Press about an attorney general opinion that allows the Ohio treasurer to conduct telephone town halls using public money. The opinion will likely have broad ramifications for the upcoming elections, Tokaji said.

“As a practical matter, while that legal advice is certainly right, very serious concerns can arise about whether these are really intended to inform Ohio constituents about the operations of his office or if they’re campaign events,” he said.

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Info & Analysis

Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds Voter ID Law

In two opinions issued today, the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the state's voter ID law against challenges that the law violated the Wisconsin Constitution. The court issued an opinion in League of Women Voters of Wisconsin v. Walker and also an opinion in Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP v. Walker.

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