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Minnesota Federal Court Rejects Challenge to Election Day Registration

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[Image courtesy of uscourts.gov]

While observers in Minnesota await the fate of two separate court challenges to a proposed voter ID amendment, a federal court recently rejected an attempt to limit the use of Election Day registration (EDR) in the state for 2012 and beyond.

The suit - brought by seven voters, State Rep. Sondra Erickson (R-Princeton), the Minnesota Voters Alliance and the Minnesota Freedom Council - asked the federal court to require state and local officials to verify the eligibility of EDR voters before counting their ballots in 2012 and in any election thereafter. The suit also challenged state law on voting by disabled individuals under guardianship - in particular, the presumption that such individuals have the right to vote unless a court orders otherwise. Both procedures, they claim dilute the effect of legitimaate voters by exposing the election system to potentially ineligible voters

Unlike the voter ID challenges currently awaiting a decision - which opponents claim would operate as a back-door repeal of EDR, the potential impacts of a direct challenge to Minnesota's EDR system are concrete and definite. Over 18% of votes cast in 2008 and over 11% in 2010 were cast by Election Day registrants. Eliminating EDR would not eliminate all of these new voters, but it would certainly reduce those numbers - and require election officials to redesign their pre-election preparations.

That isn't likely to happen anytime soon, however, given that U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank rejected each and every argument in the complaint.

Plaintiffs have said they'll appeal - but for the time being, the future of Minnesota's EDR system is probably more closely tied to the fate of the voter ID amendment than any direct challenge in federal court.

It's no Ohio, mind you, but Minnesota is definitely still worth watching between now and November.

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