Complaints that supporters of instant-runoff voting misled St. Paul voters will be heard by a three-judge panel. Administrative Law Judge Kathleen Sheehy ruled on Friday that sufficient evidence exists that the St. Paul Better Ballot Campaign violated state statutes to merit a full hearing on the matter.
The dispute stems from mailings produced by the St. Paul Better Ballot Campaign claiming support for instant-runoff voting by President Obama, the DFL party and the League of Women Voters of Minnesota, among others. St. Paul voters passed a ballot measure on Tuesday adopting the voting system for municipal elections by a 52-47 percent margin.
But opponents of instant-runoff voting, most notably the No Bad Ballots Committee, filed a pair of complaints with the state’s Office of Administrative Hearings crying foul. Specifically they believe that IRV supporters flouted a state statute requiring that written consent be obtained from an individual or organization prior to claiming their support for a candidate or cause. The No Bad Ballots Committee wants the election results tossed out.
David Schultz, a political science and law professor at Hamline University, believes the odds of that happening are remote – even if IRV supporters ran afoul of election laws. “Judges never want to overturn elections,” he notes. “I think they’re barking at the moon on this one.”
Sheehy previously held a telephone hearing on the matter. The complaints will now be heard by a three-judge panel on November 18. If the judges find merit to the allegations, they can levy a fine of up to $5,000 or refer the matter to a county attorney for consideration of criminal charges.