Minnesota Democrats have sued to get Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s name removed from the state’s general election ballots.
The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party’s Thursday lawsuit claims the Minnesota Republican Party failed to nominate its presidential electors, the people who cast the state’s 10 electoral college votes, in accordance with state law. Keith Downey, the chair of the Minnesota Republican Party, said last month that the party called a special meeting to approve alternative electors because it had previously neglected to do so.
The suit, which was filed directly to the Minnesota Supreme Court, adds a new level of chaos to an already strange election season. It could cause the parties to spend some of the rushed final eight weeks of the election fighting in court, distracting from other campaigning. While the suit is a technical one, if successful, it could affect the entire presidential election.
“It is incumbent upon political parties to follow the rules binding our elections and in this instance it does not appear that the Minnesota Republican Party did so,” said Ken Martin, the chair of the DFL Party. The DFL said last month that it did not plan to sue over the issue.
The role of a party's electors is to cast a vote for the candidate who won its state's popular vote in the presidential election. Obviously the Republican party electors would not be given that responsibility unless Trump wins Minnesota, a scenario which is (to put it mildly) highly unlikely.
So why would the DFL chair even bother with what seems to be a frivolous suit? The hope for DFLers is that if Trump is taken off the ballot, it may suppress GOP voter turnout. If that indeed occurs, it would then likely hamper Republicans' chances to maintain its Minnesota House majority, attain the majority in the MN Senate or flip the 8th Congressional District (the one CD where it appears Trump's candidacy is a net positive).
In the end it seems the MN GOP did not follow the state law to the letter. And while it appears the DFL is being petty, the state Republican party's disarray gave the Dems this ammo. The MN Supreme Court will have to issue a ruling within a couple of weeks so as to accommodate early voting. Hard to say which side benefits from what will need to be an expedited decision.