Rep. Sondra Erickson joins elections lawsuit

by  T.W. Budig

ECM Capitol reporter

Republican Rep. Sondra Erickson of Princeton has joined a lawsuit filed in federal court today (Feb. 28) seeking to require that state and county officials first confirm eligibility of people registering on Election Day before counting their votes.

Rep. Sondra Erickson, R-Princeton, indicated her joining the lawsuit stemmed from her respect for the state constitution and high expectations for the Minnesota Secretary of State's Office. (Photo by T.W. Budig)

Erickson, who lost re-election to the House in District 16A by 89 votes in 2008, indicated her support of the suit stemmed from her honoring the state constitution and high expectations for the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office.

“I’m not here as a sore loser,” she said.

She spoke of a desire for integrity in the state voting system.

Other plaintiffs in the suit include Maplewood resident and former school board candidate Jodi Lyn Nelson, who lost by a single vote in 2001 and intends to seek office again, the Minnesota Voters Alliance, the Minnesota Freedom Council, others.

“This (election) system is designed to fail,” said Erick Kaardal, an attorney for the plaintiffs.

Kaardal, who specializes in cases against the government, argued at a Capitol press conference that the state’s voting system contains procedural violations running afoul of federal law.

Andy Cilek, of Minnesota Voters Alliance, cited work by Minnesota Majority, a group active in the Photo ID debate, as a source of information on which the lawsuit is based.

Cilek styled a “sordid history” surrounding the state’s election system and depicted the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office as delaying or otherwise brushing aside inquiries into the state’s voting system.

Although the lawsuit focuses on Election Day voter registration, Cilek insists plaintiffs are not out to get rid of same-day voter registration.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “We support same-day registration.”

Cilek indicated that should a proposed Photo ID constitutional amendment be approved by voters in November, many questions concerning election integrity would be resolved.

But even if passed, Photo ID would not go into effect for a number of years, he pointed out.

“What we’re concerned about is 2012 (election),” Cilek said.

The plaintiffs argued that of 500,000 same-day voter registrations in 2008, tens of thousands were not confirmed as eligible after the ballots were cast.

This is in direct conflict with the state constitution, they argue.

These unresolved votes pollute the election system, Cilek and others argued.

“We think that’s just not good enough,” said Cilek of the current election system.

Cilek suggested the use of provisional ballots in same-day voting registration as a possible solution to their concerns.

The Secretary of State’s Office indicated in a statement that it was reviewing the suit.

“The Office never comments on any pending litigation,” the statement said in part.

Cilek indicated that additional legal steps would be taken to ensure the suit is speedily addressed by the federal court.

Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office officials in recent public testimony indicated the office does not support Photo ID.