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Judge overturns Minnesota law dictating where candidates are placed on a ballot

State statute would have dictated that elections results from 2018 would determine what candidates are at the top of the ballot in November.

A lawsuit against Minnesota’s Secretary of State will mean parties are no longer listed on ballots according to how well they did in the last election.

Democracy Docket filed a complaint against Secretary of State Steve Simon last fall, challenging a statute in Minnesota that determines what in order candidates will appear on a ballot.

Minnesota statute had dictated that candidates from the party that received the fewest votes in the state’s last general election will appear first on the ballot.

The lawsuit claimed the statute gives an advantage to candidates appearing at the top of the ballot, citing expert analysis.

A U.S. District Court judge ruled Monday that Simon must not enforce the statute in November’s election. Instead, his office must adopt a new procedure to determine the statewide placement of candidates on the ballot.

If the statute had not been overturned, candidates would have been ordered according to how many votes the state’s four major parties received in the 2018 mid-terms.

In 2018, the DFL Party received the most total votes followed by the Republican Party. The Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party and the Legal Marijuana Now Party followed, respectively, having earned major party status for the first time. 

Under the previous statute, the marijuana parties would have featured at the top of the list on voting ballots, followed by the Republican Party, and then the DFL.

Democracy Docket argued this created an "'arbitrary, across-the-board advantage' to the poorest performing major political party candidates solely on the basis of party affiliation."

It was reported this week by the Minnesota Reformer that some right-leaning individuals are seemingly being encouraged to run by Republicans as marijuana legalization candidates in closely-contested Senate seats, in an apparent effort to siphon votes away from Democrats.

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