Minnesota Supreme Court Tosses Lawsuit That Called for Delaying Election Certification

Minnesota Supreme Court Tosses Lawsuit That Called for Delaying Election Certification
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon speaks during a test of voting machines in St. Louis Park, Minn., on Oct. 23, 2018. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
Zachary Stieber

Minnesota’s top court on Friday rejected a lawsuit that asked justices to block the certification of the Nov. 3 election results in the state.

The Minnesota Supreme Court didn’t rule on the merits of the suit but said they didn’t act in time for the petition to be granted.

“Given the undisputed public record regarding the suspension of the witness requirement for absentee and mail ballots, petitioners had a duty to act well before Nov. 3, 2020, to assert claims that challenged that procedure,” the court said in its five-page unanimous ruling authored by Chief Justice Lorie Gildea.

The court also said that lawmakers should have served county election officials with a copy of the suit. “These election officials, not the secretary of state, have direct knowledge of the facts regarding the post-election reviews conducted after the Nov. 3 election and, thus, are in the best position to respond to the allegations in the petition,” Gildea said.

Because the petitioners didn’t show proof any county election officials were served, the suit was dismissed, the court ruled.

Three of Minnesota’s seven Supreme Court justices said they took no part in the consideration or decision of the suit. The justices are elected on a non-partisan, statewide ballot to six-year terms, according to the court’s website.

The lawsuit in question, Kistner et al. v. Simon, asserted that Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon illegally altered the state’s election laws.

Petitioners, including Republican congressional nominee Tyler Kistner, said that Simon’s rule changes violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because they resulted in absentee, or mail-in, ballots being treated differently from county to county.

The changes were made as part of a consent decree Simon agreed to with the Minnesota Alliance for Retired Americans Education Fund and some of its members that extended the deadline for mail-in ballots.

An appeals court earlier this year said the extension “likely violates Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution because the secretary extended the deadline for receipt of ballots without legislative authorization.”

Kistner didn’t respond to a request for comment sent to a campaign spokesman.

The Kistner case was filed last month. After it was filed, the state Canvassing Board certified the election results.