Minnesota’s popular practice of registering voters at the polls on Election Day came under a sharp legal attack in federal court Friday from activists and a state legislator who argued that those ballots are cast and counted before the voters’ eligibility can be fully checked. As a result, said lawyer Erick Kaardal, it is impossible to “claw back” votes if people are determined later to have been disqualified due to felony conviction or a question over residency or citizenship. He asked a federal judge to step in and order major changes to Minnesota’s 38-year-old Election Day registration system, which attracted 542,257 voters in 2008 and is a factor in keeping the state at the top of the nation’s voter-turnout lists. “Just don’t stuff the ballots into the ballot machine before ineligible voters are excluded,” Kaardal told the courtroom.
He spoke at a hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank in a case that has opened a second front in Minnesota’s battle over election law. Representing the Minnesota Voters Alliance, the Minnesota Freedom Foundation, Republican Rep. Sondra Erickson of Princeton and others, Kaardal proposed either doing rigorous database searches at the polling place or holding off on counting ballots of same-day registrants until they can be thoroughly vetted.
The case has themes similar to a pending state Supreme Court petition brought by the League of Women Voters, Common Cause and others. The state case seeks to block a proposed photo ID constitutional amendment that will be submitted to voters in November. In the federal case, lawyers for the state and three counties named as defendants — Ramsey, Chisago and Crow Wing — argue that officials are complying with existing state laws, that the system the activists are proposing would assume voters are “guilty” until proven otherwise, and that it would ultimately disenfranchise large numbers of people who register on Election Day. “That’s what the plaintiffs are trying to do,” said Robert Roche, representing Ramsey County. The judge questioned both sides extensively and said he would rule within two months.
Full Article: Voter registration suit heard | StarTribune.com.