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You don’t live where you say you live, Supreme Court tells state lawmaker

A current Minnesota lawmaker running for re-election actually shouldn’t be on the ballot because he doesn’t live in his district – but his name will be on the ballot, it just won’t count.

Yes that’s kind of confusing. Here’s the rundown.

There will be a special election to determine the winner of the Minnesota House District 32B.

That’s according to a Minnesota Supreme Court order released Thursday, which affirmed an earlier ruling that Republican state Rep. Bob Barrett does not live in the district he represents.

This makes him ineligible for re-election – Minnesota law requires that a candidate live in the district they represent for the six months leading up to an election.

But Barrett will still be on the ballot

The three-term lawmaker’s name will still be on the ballot, however.

The Supreme Court says it’s too late to remove his name (it has to be done more than 79 days before election day). So when voters in District 32B head to the polls Nov. 8, they’ll see Barrett’s name on the ballot – but they’ll be told no winner will actually be picked in that race.

He’s running against Laurie Warner, the DFL-endorsed candidate for District 32B.

Instead, there will be a special election held Feb. 14, 2017, to pick the district’s representative, the state’s highest court ordered.

So where does he live?

Barrett says his address is a rental home in Taylors Falls – inside District 32B. But he also has a home in Shafer, which is outside the district he represents.

Anti-Barrett activists have been trying to prove Barrett doesn’t live at the Taylors Falls home. So over the summer a few of them visited the house 30 times over 15 days and set up a trail camera to get evidence, the Pioneer Press said.

What they found was enough to convince a district judge he doesn’t live there, the paper said. And that issue, along with whether Barrett’s name should be removed from the ballot, were brought to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Barrett released a statement to The Uptake regarding the court’s decision, saying he is disappointed and has no plans to run for re-election again in February. He also criticized Democrats for spying on him and his family.

His opponent, Warner, released a statement via email Thursday saying the people of the district “deserve a representative who is present in their community and working hard on their behalf. The saddest part of this situation is that when the legislative session begins in January the people of District 32B will not have a state representative.”

Could it affect the House makeup?

If the Republican Barrett doesn’t run again in February, it could open the door for a Democrat to take the seat.

Of the 134 state representatives, 73 lean Republican and 61 lean Democrat – so that’s a 12-seat advantage for Republicans. The DFL party would only need to win six seats to even things up.

And if the 32B seat isn’t decided until February, that means what has been a Republican seat will be open until then – the party effectively is down a seat (though that won’t matter if the party holds on to the House by a margin of more than one seat).

In 2014, Barrett beat Warner by about 11 percentage points, getting 55 percent of the vote to the DFLer’s 44 percent.

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