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Minnesota Voters Alliance et al. v. Joe Mansky et al.

The Brennan Center for Justice and the League of Women Voters filed an amicus brief arguing that local election officials can prohibit the wearing of “Please I.D. Me” buttons inside the polling place.

Published: February 12, 2018

Case Back­ground

Minnesota Voters Alli­ance v. Mansky is a chal­lenge to a state law prohib­it­ing polit­ical apparel in polling places. In 2010, several local Tea Party groups in Minnesota formed the Elec­tion Integ­rity Watch coali­tion to detect purpor­ted in-person voter fraud at the polls. As part of their poll-monit­or­ing, they distrib­uted buttons for voters to wear to the polls asking poll work­ers to “Please I.D. Me,” as well as t-shirts display­ing the Tea Party name and vari­ous slogans. Minnesota did not and does not have a voter I.D. law (in fact, the voters of Minnesota rejec­ted a consti­tu­tional amend­ment that would have added an I.D. require­ment to the state consti­tu­tion).

Minnesota stat­ute § 211B.11(1) prohib­its the wear­ing of any “polit­ical badge, polit­ical button, or other polit­ical insignia at or about the polling place” on elec­tion days. Five days before the 2010 elec­tion, the Peti­tion­ers, a group of indi­vidu­als and organ­iz­a­tions involved with Elec­tion Integ­rity Watch, sued to secure an injunc­tion against enforce­ment of the stat­ute. In response, state and local elec­tion admin­is­trat­ors issued an elec­tion day policy instruct­ing poll work­ers to prohibit, among other things, apparel promot­ing candid­ates, parties, or ballot ques­tions; apparel inten­ded to impact the voting process (like the “Please I.D. Me” buttons); and apparel promot­ing any group with “recog­niz­able polit­ical views.” The policy stated that that indi­vidu­als wear­ing such apparel would be asked to tempor­ar­ily remove it or cover it up; refusal to do so could consti­tute a misde­meanor (although under no circum­stances would anyone be denied the right to vote).

Peti­tion­ers were unsuc­cess­ful in having enforce­ment of the stat­ute enjoined. The case subsequently went back and forth between the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota and the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Certi­or­ari was gran­ted follow­ing the most recent ruling from the Eighth Circuit solely to address the ques­tion of whether Minn. Stat. § 211B.11(1) is facially over­broad and uncon­sti­tu­tional.

The Bren­nan Center for Justice, on behalf of itself, The League of Women Voters of the United States, and the League of Women Voters Minnesota, submit­ted an amicus brief arguing that the state has a compel­ling interest in prohib­it­ing apparel like the “Please I.D. Me” buttons designed to mislead voters and poll work­ers into believ­ing iden­ti­fic­a­tion is required to vote. Among other things, the brief marshals signi­fic­ant research show­ing that there is already consid­er­able misun­der­stand­ing of voter iden­ti­fic­a­tion rules on the part of the voters and poll work­er­s—in­clud­ing the wide­spread mistaken belief that iden­ti­fic­a­tion is required to vote even in states where it is not, which Peti­tion­ers’ buttons likely would have exacer­bated. The brief goes on to argue that Respond­ents’ decision to bar Tea Party apparel was also permiss­ible, and notes that any concerns about other theor­et­ical applic­a­tions of Respond­ents’ elec­tion day policy can be addressed without inval­id­at­ing the under­ly­ing stat­ute.

Brief

SCOTUS­B­log Symposium Contri­bu­tion

U.S. Supreme Court

Juris­dic­tional Stage

Amicus Briefs in Support of Appel­lants’ Juris­dic­tional State­ment

Merits Stage

Amicus Briefs in Support of Appel­lants 

Amicus Briefs in Support of Respond­ents

 

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