Notice: Voter Assistance Law Change
Following an order from a State District Court last week, election judges are temporarily prohibited from enforcing two laws that limit how many people an individual may assist in voting. For the sake of simplicity, the current law and rule is this: Election judges should allow a voter to receive help in marking his or her ballot, or in returning an absentee ballot, from any person the voter chooses, except for the voter’s employer, an agent or employee of the voter’s employer, or an officer or agent of the voter’s union. There is no limit on the number of voters an individual may assist in marking a ballot or returning absentee ballots.
The Plaintiffs in the court case DSCC v. Simon, challenge two statutes (Minn. Stat. § 204C.15, subd. 1 and Minn. Stat. § 203B.08, subd. 1) as unconstitutional limits on voting. Because the Judge believes there is a reasonable chance of the Plaintiff’s winning the case, the Judge issued the temporary injunction concerning these two statutes. Since this case is not yet resolved, the rule could change again.
The two statutes at issue limit the number of voters an individual may assist in voting. One of the statutes, Minn. Stat. § 204C.15, subd. 1, says in relevant part, “The person who assists the voter shall, unaccompanied by an election judge, retire with that voter to a booth and mark the ballot as directed by the voter. No person who assists another voter as provided in the preceding sentence shall mark the ballots of more than three voters at one election.” This statute indicates that an individual, other than an election judge, is allowed to help up to three people in marking their ballots during an election. Election judges were and continue to be allowed to assist voters in marking their ballots upon the voter’s request.
The second statute, Minn. Stat. § 203B.08, subd. 1, says in relevant part, “An agent may deliver or mail the return envelopes of not more than three voters in any election.” This statute allowed an individual to help up to three people in marking or returning their absentee ballots in an election.
For now, election judges should not apply the prohibitions described above. There are other rules in both statutes that remain in effect – the injunction affects only small parts of the statutes.