Democrats are asking Minnesota’s Supreme Court to remove Donald Trump from the Minnesota ballot because Republicans didn’t follow state law. Democratic Farmer Labor (DFL) Party Chair Ken Martin filed the legal challenge late on Thursday.
UPDATE: Minnesota’s Supreme Court ordered all parties to respond to the suit by 4:30pm Friday. The court wants the Secretary of State to know how much time the court has to decide the case before the ballots must be printed. It wants the DFL to explain why the case shouldn’t be dismissed because of the lateness of the filing (a concept known as laches), and the Republican party to explain why the DFL’s suit may be too late.
In response, the Secretary of State says a decision on the case must be made by September 12 to allow for the ballots to be printed. The DFL response basically says laches does not apply in this case and it should go forward. The brief filed on Friday says the DFL could not act until the GOP filed its candidates on August 25. The Republican party said laches does apply and the case should be tossed out. It also says that placing candidates names on the ballot and choosing presidential electors are independent from each other under state law.
Martin alleges Minnesota Republicans did not follow correct procedure in selecting alternate presidential electors for Donald Trump — something the party failed to do before it adjourned its two-day convention in Duluth on May 21. The entire convention was live streamed by The UpTake and can be seen here.
Republican Party Chair Keith Downey later filed a slate of names of presidential electors and alternates with the Minnesota Secretary of State. Martin says the alternates were selected by the Republican executive committee on August 24 and not the state convention. Martin says that violates state law that requires “delegate conventions” to choose the alternates.
“It is apparent that clear errors occurred in the Republican process of selecting alternative electors for getting Donald Trump on the Minnesota ballot,” said Martin in a press release. “It is incumbent upon political parties to follow the rules binding our elections and in this instance it does not appear that the Minnesota Republican Party did so.”
Martin is asking that Trump’s and running mate Michael Pence’s names be removed from the November general election ballot. If that were to happen, it could severely depress Republican voter turnout — which could impact congressional and legislative races.
“Donald Trump got on our ballot fair and square” said Downey in a press release on Friday accusing the DFL of trying to “rig the election.” “It appears Minnesota Democrats are very worried. In the end the Clinton machine’s blatant and frivolous attempt to disenfranchise so many Minnesota voters will backfire – it’s everything that people see wrong with politics.”
One of the lawyers on the case is no stranger to high-stakes election-related court battles in Minnesota. Marc Elias was one of the lawyers for Al Franken during his court battle with Norm Coleman over the 2008 U.S. Senate race election. One of the other lawyers on the Franken team may also be a player in this drama. David Lillehaug is now an Associate Justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court.
In response to reporter questions, Elias tweeted on Thursday night the case should pose no conflict of interest problems for Lillehaug. “It’s been five years since we worked together –and in a very different case. No conflict issue.”
Court documents and exhibits.