ST. PAUL, Minnesota — A lawsuit contesting a new, Internet-based system for voter registration should be dismissed because plaintiffs lack standing to sue, attorneys for Secretary of State Mark Ritchie argued Wednesday.
New documents filed in the case say those behind the lawsuit are seeking an extraordinary remedy and can't show they've been injured.
Four Minnesota Republican legislators and two advocacy groups filed the lawsuit last month. They argued that Ritchie, a Democrat, exceeded his power by creating the registration tool without explicit legislative consent. The formal response on behalf of Ritchie was filed ahead of a hearing next week in Ramsey County District Court.
Since the system went live in September, at least 2,225 people across the state used it to submit voter applications or made updates to prior registrations. Some were voters in recent municipal elections.
Even as state attorneys pushed for dismissal on technical grounds, they argue the registration system was legitimately created and on par with other electronic filings currently allowed. They equated it to voter registrations done in conjunction with driver's license applications. In those cases, data are transferred to the secretary of state's office electronically if someone checks a box on their license application.
"In the past nine years, more than 500,000 Minnesotans have used the electronic 'motor voter' process to register to vote or to update their voter registrations," Ritchie's attorneys wrote.
People using the new system must present verifiable identification data and an electronic signature. Applications are checked in similar fashion as paper forms.
The Republicans who filed the lawsuit along with Minnesota Majority and the Minnesota Voters Alliance have said they aren't opposed to the online registration concept. They say that legislators deserve input.
The case is on a fast-track because both sides want it resolved well ahead of next year's statewide election.