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Steve Simon

Minnesota Secretary of State vows to appeal ruling to release voter data to state Supreme Court

ST. PAUL — Should the public know if a voter’s eligibility has been challenged? How about if they’ve been convicted of a felony?

Secretary of State Steve Simon doesn’t think so and he’s planning to challenge his second legal defeat on the matter.

But the Minnesota Voters Alliance says that type of information and other data the state collects would help prove voter fraud is more pervasive than many think.

Simon and the group have been battling over the information since 2017 and the case likely won’t be resolved soon. A state Court of Appeals panel on Monday, April 15, upheld a lower court ruling that ordered Simon to provide the information, but he’s vowed to take the matter to the state Supreme Court.

Simon only wants to provide the “public information list,” which is more limited than what the Voters Alliance has requested. In addition to voters’ names, addresses and other identifying information, the state collects information on whether someone votes in person or absentee, if their eligibility has been challenged and the status of a voter’s registration.

Both sides have cited state law to back up their case, but so far the courts have ruled against Simon.

“Minnesota law makes voting as easy as possible for eligible voters, while simultaneously protecting the privacy rights of voters,” Simon said in a statement Monday. “When those rights are under attack, I will use all legal means to protect the private information of Minnesota voters.”

The Minnesota Voters Alliance has questioned Simon’s logic, saying the information they’ve requested is critical to the state’s election integrity and credibility. They’ve asked Simon to show how releasing the data would result in the suppression of voters.

State Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, who also served as Secretary of State, said the ruling “comes as no surprise to those of us familiar with upholding election integrity.” Kiffmeyer added that Minnesota had: “notoriously lax voter rules that make fraud easy to conduct and difficult to prove.”

If Simon doesn’t give up his fight, Kiffmeyer threatened to ask the Legislature to “step in to prevent further appeals and legal bills.”

Simon is already in a tussle with Senate Republicans, including Kiffmeyer, over federal money for election security. Simon needs the Legislature’s OK to tap the $6.6 million in federal grants under the Help America Vote Act.

The Senate has agreed to give Simon access to some of the funding, but not all of it, until they get a more detailed description of how it will be spent. Simon has argued he’s already provided that information and Minnesota is the only state in the nation without access to the funds.

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