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Election Contest Brought by Eleven Candidates in Dakota County is Dismissed

Updated: Jul 2, 2022

On December 16, 2020, Dakota County District Court Judge Timothy McManus dismissed the election contest brought by Tyler Kistner and 10 candidates for the Minnesota Legislature. Senator Hall withdrew prior to Judge McManus issuing his order. In a memorandum accompanying his order dismissing the contest, Judge McManus found that the court lacked jurisdiction with respect to the Congressional race because Mr. Kistner "failed to state in the Notice that the alleged irregularities in the election process changed the outcome of the race for the seat in the 2nd Congressional District." Representative Craig won her election by 9,580 votes, which was a margin of more than two percentage points. With respect to the other contestants, Judge McManus likewise found that the court lacked jurisdiction "due to Contestants’ failure to allege that the irregularities in the election process changed the outcome of each race."

Judge McManus ruled that the portion of the contest based on an August 3, 2020 consent decree entered into by Secretary of State Steve Simon suspending the witness signature requirement for absentee ballots was barred by a legal doctrine known as laches, which bars claims brought after an unreasonable delay that causes prejudice to others. When the order approving the consent decree was appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court the appellants voluntarily agreed to dismissal of the case.

Judge McManus also noted that the contestants failed to timely serve the notice of election contest on seven of the candidates whose election was contested. As to the other claims of election irregularities, Judge McManus concluded that election officials need not use absentee ballot boards comprised of election judges and if deputy county auditors or deputy city clerks are utilized instead, absentee ballot boards do not have to be comprised of members from different major political parties. Judge McManus stated that alleged "irregularities relating to the PER [post-election review] process do not allege violations of Minnesota Election Law at all."

One fact that the contestants repeatedly cited as evidence of irregularities during the PER process was "a new 520-pound Dominion voting machine delivered FEDEX to Dakota County after the election and just a few days prior to its November 16, 2020, postelection review." In a footnote Judge McManus quoted an affidavit submitted by Andy Lokken, explaining that on "November 16, 2020 two large printers sold to the County by Dominion Voting were delivered to the County’s judicial center loading dock. They were not used in the 2020 general election. These printers were purchased with money from a grant and have been on the loading dock, unopened, waiting to be installed. The packing slip was simply delivered to [me] while I was conducting the postelection review."

Judge McManus's order and memorandum are available here. Other documents filed in the contest are available here, courtesy of Democracy Docket.

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