Yesterday, PLF submitted a letter urging Minnesota to ensure that its election officials are enforcing the law within the confines of the Supreme Court’s decision in Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky.
In June, the Supreme Court struck down a Minnesota statute that had prohibited wearing any “political badge, political button, or other political insignia” in polling places on Election Day. While recognizing Minnesota’s interest in maintaining order at the polls, the Court held that Minnesota cannot seek to further this interest through a sweeping ban on political apparel without any sensible basis for determining just what counts as political. The statute’s vague language, combined with Minnesota’s haphazard interpretation and enforcement, worked a violation of the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.
PLF was proud to represent the plaintiffs before the Supreme Court in that case. Accordingly, we were troubled by reports coming out of Minnesota’s primary elections on August 14th which indicated that some election officials continued to enforce a broad interpretation of the policy. In fact, it is apparent that they were not even aware of the Court’s decision in Minnesota Voters Alliance.
PLF is confident that Minnesota wishes to avoid violating its voters’ First Amendment Rights, and that our letter will prompt new training for election officials advising them of the Supreme Court’s decision. After all, a lack of guidance for poll workers is one of the flaws noted in the Court’s opinion. We trust that voters across Minnesota will be able to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights this November.