Minnesota Supreme Court rules some voter data private

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the secretary of state can withhold some voter information from a conservative election watchdog group.

In a 5-2 decision, the high court reversed a lower court ruling that favored the Minnesota Voters Alliance. That group sued to obtain data on millions of voters that Secretary of State Steve Simon’s office contends should be kept private.

The alliance says it wants to see if the data shows voter fraud. Simon produced a publicly available database for the group with names, addresses, birth year, voting history and telephone number for more than 5 million people, but he withheld details about the eligibility status of voters.

Justice David Lillehaug wrote in the majority opinion that Simon properly balanced transparency with voter privacy.

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Chief Justice Lorie Gildea wrote in a dissent that the decision gives Simon too much power to classify data on his own.

Simon said in a statement that every action he has taken in the case "was to protect the privacy of Minnesota’s voters."

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison calls the ruling "a big win for Minnesota voters’ privacy."

The Minnesota Voters Alliance maintains the ruling affirms the group’s position that all of the records in the statewide voter registration database are publicly available data, and again called on Simon to release the complete set of election records to the public.

To view the full ruling, click here.