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Judge throws out latest Minneapolis policing ballot language

Liz Navratil, Star Tribune on

Published in News & Features

Attorneys for Yes 4 Minneapolis and the city pushed back, saying the language needed to be sufficient to tell residents they were voting on the public safety proposal — as opposed to another on the ballot — but cautioned against trying to provide too much explanation, saying that was more appropriate for campaigns.

In her latest order, Anderson wrote that the ballot question doesn't have to explain all the effects of a charter amendment but it must convey its essential purpose.

"The New Ballot Question is 'so complex that voters' cannot be expected to 'understand the meaning or essential purpose' of the proposed charter amendment," she wrote, adding later: "The New Ballot Question is so unreasonable and misleading as to be a palpable evasion of the constitutional requirement to submit the law to a vote."

Throughout the court proceedings, attorneys have argued fiercely over whether state law requires the issue to be placed on the November ballot or whether it could be pushed to a future election.

Anderson's order blocks elections officials from using the latest ballot phrasing this November but leaves open the possibility the proposal would still appear at a future election.

Attorneys for Dachis and the Samuels had also asked her to block city officials from approving new wording until a plan for the new department was in place. Anderson declined that request, saying "the Court has no authority to order such an injunction and will not do so."

 

Appeals are expected. In a statement after the Tuesday ruling, City Attorney Jim Rowader said his office "is focused on a speedy appellate process to ensure all voters have the opportunity to make known their positions on this critical issue as part of the municipal election this year."

With ballots already being printed, the judge wrote that she was taking steps "to lessen the impact of this Order while the parties pursue an appeal."

Anderson said the question can remain on the ballots being printed. If an appeal is filed and there isn't a ruling before early voting starts Friday, Anderson instructed elections officials to "provide, with each ballot, a notice of ballot change instructing all voters that the New Ballot Question should not be voted on and will not be counted or reported pursuant to court order."

She also blocked them from "tallying or counting or in any way considering votes on the New Ballot Question."

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