AG Ellison, Secretary Simon discuss judge’s orders that stripped felons of voting rights

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State officials came together Friday morning to discuss their opposition to recent orders from a Mille Lacs County judge regarding felon voting rights.

Judge Matthew Quinn filed two orders last week, denying two Minnesotans with felony convictions the right to vote, despite the fact that state legislators passed a law this year allowing felons to vote as long as they are no longer incarcerated.

However, Quinn called that law, known as the “Restore the Vote Act,” unconstitutional and said felons aren’t eligible to vote until the civil right to vote has been restored.

RELATED: Ellison, Simon decry orders by Mille Lacs County judge stripping felons of voting rights

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and Secretary of State Steve Simon released a joint statement earlier this week in response to the orders, saying they “believe the judge’s orders are not lawful” and plan to oppose them.

Ellison and Simon met with members of the press Friday afternoon to state that Quinn’s orders were illegal.

“Judge Quinn’s actions are inappropriate, outrageous, illegal and he has no authority to do what he’s doing and have no effect on the validity or constitutionality of the law that the Legislature has passed,” Ellison said, adding that the judge “exceeded his authority.”

The attorney general said his office officially filed to intervene in the cases on Thursday, noting that Quinn never even notified his office, which is required under the law given that the attorney general’s office is tasked with defending state laws.

Simon noted that Quinn’s orders only impacted the couple of individuals at the center of those specific cases the judge ruled on and didn’t have any statewide effect.

“Nothing has changed in Minnesota law since ‘Restore the Vote’ took effect in June,” Simon said, reiterating that Minnesotans shouldn’t worry about it impacting their eligibility to vote.

“We don’t want anyone else to draw inspiration from what this judge has done,” Simon added. We want everyone to know that there will be a swift and strong response, both in the courts and otherwise, to anyone who attempts to in essence hijack a state statute.”

The attorney general’s office says the court typically moves quickly in these matters and they expect the cases to be resolved before Election Day next month.

When Minnesota passed the law this spring, it joined 21 other states in automatically restoring voting rights after residents are released from prison, the National Conference of State Legislatures said.