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Court affirms Minnesota conservative group is entitled to voter data

The Minnesota Court of Appeals has affirmed a lower court ruling that voter data sought by a conservative election watchdog group is public.

A Ramsey County judge ruled in favor of the Minnesota Voters Alliance last July, and the Court of Appeals upheld that decision Monday. Secretary of State Steve Simon indicated Monday that his office is preparing an appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Much of the data in the Statewide Voter Registration System is public. The group sued to obtain data on millions of voters that the secretary of state’s office contended was private. The data pertain to a voter’s status including whether they’ve been challenged, the reason for that challenge and their voting history.

The courts agreed that the data is public under the state’s open records law.

The alliance says it wants the data so it can assess how many ineligible people vote in Minnesota.

Simon issued a statement Monday afternoon after the court issued its opinion in Cilek v. Office of Minnesota Secretary of State:

“My team is reviewing today’s opinion from the Court of Appeals in anticipation of filing a petition for further review before the Minnesota Supreme Court. Minnesota law makes voting as easy as possible for eligible voters, while simultaneously protecting the privacy rights of voters. When those rights are under attack, I will use all legal means to protect the private information of Minnesota voters. I trust law enforcement and county attorneys who investigate and prosecute the few actual cases of ineligible voting in Minnesota. And I also take seriously my duty to protect the voting rights of Minnesotans by standing firm against those who call into question or seek to suppress the votes of thousands of eligible voters.”

Minnesota Lawyer staff contributed to this report.

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