Challenging a Voter
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An election judge, any eligible voter in the precinct, or an appointed challenger may contest a voter’s eligibility. Voter eligibility can only becontested if the challenger has personal knowledge that the person is not eligible to vote. Minnesota Statutes 204C.07and 204C.12 address challenges to voters.
Suspicion is not a basis for making a challenge. The challenger must personally know that a specific person is not eligible to vote for a specific reason.
Political parties and/or nonpartisan candidates can appoint one challenger per precinct, who may remain in the polling place for the day. Challengers are not poll watchers. The only action a challenger may take is to contest a voter’s eligibility, if and only if they have personal knowledge of that voter’s ineligibility. Only one challenger for each candidate, party or ballot question is allowed in the polling place at any given time.
- Partisan appointments — Major political parties can appoint voters who are residents of Minnesota from that party to act as challengers.
- Non-Partisan appointments — Non-partisan candidates can appoint voters who are residents of Minnesota to act as challengers at the polling place for each precinct.
- Ballot question appointments — Upon receiving a written petition signed by at least 25 eligible voters, the mayor of a city, school board of a school district or board of supervisors of a town shall appoint one voter who is a resident of Minnesota for each precinct.
All challengers must:
- Present the Head Judge their written appointment from a political party or a nonpartisan candidate (appointments cannot be made by partisan candidates). Appointments must be made in writing.
- Prove their Minnesota residence by presenting one of the proofs of residence accepted for Election Day registration. Challengers are not required to prove residence in the precinct where they are appointed.
Code of Conduct for Appointed Challengers
- A challenger can only challenge a voter’s eligibility based upon their personal knowledge that the voter is not eligible to vote there.
- A challenger cannot speak to the voter, and should only speak to the judge when initiating a challenge. All challenges must be made in writing.
- Challengers cannot be disruptive, handle or inspect voter registration applications, files or lists. They cannot make lists of who did or did not vote.
- Challengers cannot take photos within the polling place.
- Challengers cannot go within six feet of the ballot counter.
- Challengers cannot attempt to influence voting.
- Challengers cannot compile lists of voters to challenge on the basis of mail sent by a political party that was returned as undeliverable or if receipt by the intended recipient was not acknowledged in the case of registered mail.