Ritchie 2 for 2 against Republican Senators
Republican attempts to muzzle Secretary of State Mark Ritchie were dealt a second blow Thursday when an administrative law judge in the Office of Adminstrative Hearings (OAH) dismissed a complaint filed by Senators Mark Newman and Mike Parry. The complaint alleged that Ritchie had lied about the photo voter ID amendment, used his office for partisan campaigning, and forced workers in his office to campaign against the amendment. Administrative Law Judge Bruce Johnson ruled for Ritchie on all counts. And the best part is that Johnson found that all of Ritchie’s claims about the impact of voter ID were true!
Jim Ragsdale of the Star Tribune reported (emphasis is mine):
— The amendment would be “a significant change in the process for same-day registration,” and therefore Ritchie’s statement that it would end same-day registration is “not a false statement.”
— Ritchie’s statement that implementation of photo ID and related election-law changes could cost $50 million for startup and $10 million in ongoing costs was “within the range of other estimates.”
— Ritchie’s statement that enacting photo ID would trigger oversight by the U.S. Department of Justice is correct.
— Ritchie’s statement that it is not clear how out-of-state absentee voters could continue to vote is “an opinion about a question about which there are differing views.”
— There was no evidence that Ritchie compelled his staff to engage in political activity, as the senators claimed.
This is the second loss for Senators Parry and Newman this week. Three days earlier, the Campaign Finance Board summarily rejected a similar complaint against Ritchie, via a letter from board chair Gary Goldsmith.
At the time that Newman and Parry announced the filing of the complaint, their lawyer Fritz Knaak stated that they could pursue four avenues in this complaint – the Campaign Finance Board, the Office of Administrative Hearings, the Office of the Legislative Auditor, and an unspecified use of the federal Hatch Act. Well, they’re 0 for 2 so far.
Mark Ritchie has been a champion for all Minnesota voters, he’s told the truth about the voter ID amendment. The SLAPP strategy of the Republicans is a disgusting attempt to prevent him from doing his job – telling Minnesotans what the amendment would actually do.
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