An extraordinary request to exclude Republican nominee Donald Trump from the Minnesota ballot sparked sharp words Friday and a swift timetable for the Minnesota Supreme Court to consider the Democratic petition. At least 1 million Minnesota ballots have already been printed, according to one legal filing. DFL Party Chair Ken Martin and his lawyers urged Trump’s removal from the ballot in a filing Thursday, arguing that state Republicans didn’t follow the law for submitting his candidate paperwork. Republican Party Chair Keith Downey shot back that the case was frivolous. “Donald Trump got on our ballot fair and square, and it is outrageous that the Democrat Party would actually try to rig the election this way,” Downey said in a written statement. “It sure smells bad when the Democrat Party petitions the Democrat Secretary of State to remove the Republican candidate from the presidential ballot.”
Unlike minor-party candidates, the two major parties have relatively little to do to get their candidates on the ballot. Republicans and Democrats had until late August to provide names of the nominee and a running mate, along with 10 electors who would cast votes after the election if that party’s nominee wins. They also had to supply the names of 10 alternates. The law says the electors and alternates have to be chosen at state party conventions. The Republicans forgot to appoint alternates at the state convention, and party leaders made emergency selections just before filing in August.
Trump’s Minnesota campaign director, Andy Post, said the Democratic request would punish Minnesota voters. “We are focused on campaigning while state Democrats are focused on preventing Minnesotans from having a vote,” Post said in a written statement.
Nationally-known scholars in election law said courts are reluctant to go as far as the Democrats want here. Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine and moderator of an election law blog, said that “courts should bend over backwards in reading rules to provide voters with a meaningful choice on Election Day.”