Voter group presses Simon to release election data

The Minnesota Voters Alliance held a news conference Friday to call on Secretary of State Steve Simon to follow a court order to release voter registration records. Andy Cilek, the group’s executive director spoke as Erick Kaardal, left, and Dan McGrath looked on.  Tim Pugmire | MPR News

An election watchdog group is calling on Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon to quickly respond to a court order to release millions of voter registration records that his office collects.

The Minnesota Voters’ Alliance filed a lawsuit last year claiming Simon had wrongly denied it access to information on voter eligibility, including challenges related to citizenship, residency and felon status.

On Wednesday, Ramsey County District Court Judge Jennifer Frisch ordered Simon to release the requested information within 10 days.

Erik Kaardal, the group’s attorney, said during a news conference Friday that the data will show the extent of ineligible voting.

“We can’t get that information, and we would use that information to demonstrate that we have a problem in Minnesota with ineligible people voting, and that close elections in Minnesota are determined by ineligible voters,” Kaardal said.

Kaardal said he believes a review of the data could also show the need for changes in state election law, such as a requirement for provisional ballots.

Simon has argued that the specific information sought by the group is beyond what he’s required to make public. He took a similar stand last year when he refused to cooperate with a Trump administration panel looking into voter fraud issues.

A spokesman, Ben Petok, said Simon was attending a national conference and was unable to comment. He said the office will seek a stay of the judge’s order pending an appeal.

“Secretary Simon will use all available legal tools to protect the private information of Minnesota voters,” Petok said.

 

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