University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name LaRose v. Simon VR-MN-0016
Docket / Court 62-CV-20-3149 ( State Court )
State/Territory Minnesota
Case Type(s) Election/Voting Rights
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Case Summary
This lawsuit was filed in Minnesota state court on May 13, 2020 by four individual plaintiffs and the Minnesota Alliance for Retired Americans Educational Fund. Represented by private counsel, they filed suit against Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon. The lawsuit challenged two Minnesota ... read more >
This lawsuit was filed in Minnesota state court on May 13, 2020 by four individual plaintiffs and the Minnesota Alliance for Retired Americans Educational Fund. Represented by private counsel, they filed suit against Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon. The lawsuit challenged two Minnesota election law provisions. First, the "Witness Requirement" mandated that Minnesotans who voted absentee needed another voter to bear witness. Second, Minnesota law required absentee ballots to be received by 3 p.m. on Election Day if they were turned in by hand and by 8 p.m. if they were turned in by mail, the so-called "Election Day Receipt Deadline." The suit argued that these provisions would not be acceptable even under normal circumstances, but that in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic (and the massive expansion of absentee voting that followed) they were violative of the Minnesota constitution and the U.S. Constitution. The suit argued that both provisions represented undue burdens on the right to vote in violation of the Minnesota constitution as well as the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. Furthermore, the complaint alleged that the Election Day Receipt Deadline was contrary to Due Process guarantees in both the Minnesota constitution and the U.S. Constitution. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief that would prohibit the defendant from enforcing the Witness Requirement while also allowing for the counting of any absentee ballot that was postmarked on or before Election Day.

The case was assigned to Judge Sara Grewing.

On June 16, the parties submitted a stipulation that adjusted the rules with regards to the August 11 primary in Minnesota. In the stipulation and partial consent decree, the parties agreed that the Witness Requirement would not be enforced for the August 11 primary and that all ballots postmarked on August 11 or earlier would be counted. They also agreed that the state would make this information public.

Though it is hard to tell exactly what happened from the docket alone (the Clearinghouse does not have access to every filing on this case), it appears that from mid- to late-June several Republican organizations moved to intervene as defendants in the case, including the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the Republican Party of Minnesota.

By early August, the court entered an order granting similar relaxation of the laws with regards to the November 3 general election, according to the Minnesota Reformer. The order stated that the Witness Requirement would be waived for the general election and that ballots postmarked for November 3 or earlier would be counted as long as they were received by official county canvassing dates. The plaintiffs and the state of Minnesota agreed to this order, but it was decried by the Republican intervenors as judicial overreach.

The case is ongoing as of August 11, 2020.

Jack Hibbard - 08/11/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Procedural Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Confidentiality
Voting
Voting access
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Voting
Election administration
Voter qualifications
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
State law
Defendant(s) Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon
Plaintiff Description Four private individuals and Minnesota Alliance for Retired Americans Educational Fund
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Filed 05/13/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
62-CV-20-3149 (State Trial Court)
VR-MN-0016-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/10/2020
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief
VR-MN-0016-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/13/2020
Stipulation and Partial Consent Decree
VR-MN-0016-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/17/2020
show all people docs
Judges Grewing, Sara Court not on record show/hide docs
VR-MN-0016-0002 | VR-MN-0016-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Callais, Amanda R. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-MN-0016-0001 | VR-MN-0016-0002
Clark, Samuel J. (Minnesota) show/hide docs
VR-MN-0016-0001 | VR-MN-0016-0002
Curtis, Charles G. Jr. (Wisconsin) show/hide docs
VR-MN-0016-0001 | VR-MN-0016-0002
Dunlop, Sybil L. (Minnesota) show/hide docs
VR-MN-0016-0001 | VR-MN-0016-0002 | VR-MN-0016-9000
Elias, Marc Erik (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-MN-0016-0001 | VR-MN-0016-0002
Khanna, Abha (Washington) show/hide docs
VR-MN-0016-0001 | VR-MN-0016-0002
Defendant's Lawyers Ellison, Keith (Minnesota) show/hide docs
VR-MN-0016-9000

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