Today, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced a lawsuit to eliminate Minnesota’s unconstitutional Voter Assistance Bans. Under Minnesota law, a person may help no more than three voters complete their in-person or absentee ballots. The state also limits the number of voters an individual may help submit their absentee ballots – regardless of language barriers or disabilities. These unnecessary restrictions prevent assistance that thousands of Minnesotans could, otherwise, depend on to exercise their right to vote and participate in the political process.
The Voter Assistance Bans directly contradict federal law which requires that “[a]ny voter who requires assistance to vote by reason of blindness, disability, or inability to read or write may be given assistance by a person of the voter’s choice.” The Voter Assistance Bans unlawfully limit Minnesotans’ rights under Section 208 because voters may not choose someone to assist them who has already assisted three other voters. Earlier this year, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon told a Minnesota House Committee that the law limiting assistance for voters places Minnesota on the “losing side of any legal challenge under the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965.”
“These unfair and illegal obstacles to voting undermine the promise that every eligible voter can make their voice heard, and they do so in a way that discriminates against older Americans, people with disabilities, and non-English speakers,” said DSCC Chair Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto. “We are working to overturn these unconstitutional restrictions because we are committed to making it easier for every American to participate in our democracy.”
“There’s no place in our society for laws that make it harder for older Americans, non-English speakers and people with disabilities to cast their ballots,” DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos said. “We should be working to increase access to the ballot, not restrict it. We’ll continue fighting voter suppression laws across the country that discriminate against Americans trying to make their voices heard in our democracy.”
“One of the most important parts of a representative democracy is ensuring the ballot box is accessible to all eligible voters, that includes people facing language barriers and those with disabilities.” said Rep. Samantha Vang (DFL- Brooklyn Center). “I authored a bill in 2019 to lift restrictions on helping voters cast their ballots, and was passed in the House but stalled in the Senate. I hope to see this unjust law changed, either through the courts or the legislative process.”
The lawsuit is the latest in a series of actions Democrats have taken to protect the integrity of elections in states across the country. Last week, the DSCC and DCCC announced victory in their lawsuit to eliminate South Carolina’s unconstitutional requirement that potential voters provide their full nine-digit Social Security number in order to register to vote.
The DSCC and DCCC are making an eight-figure commitment to fighting voter suppression in battleground states across the country and have filed lawsuits in eight states — including North Carolina, Texas, Florida, and Georgia, Michigan, Arizona, and Minnesota. The South Carolina victory follows others in North Carolina, Michigan, and Florida.
Read the complaint here.