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Court Case

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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