Judge to decide whether Minneapolis police proposal can stay on ballot

A lawyer for three Minneapolis residents asked a judge to toss out the Minneapolis police ballot question Thursday, while the city and an activist group argued to let it stay.

Hennepin County District Judge Jamie Anderson didn't make an immediate ruling after the hearing but promised she'd make "every attempt" to decide soon. Hennepin County officials say they need final language by Tuesday to get ballots printed and mailed by the time early voting starts Sept. 17.

A yes vote would strike the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with a new public safety agency that could include police officers. It would remove the position of police chief and eliminate the minimum staffing level for Minneapolis Police.

Joe Anthony, the three residents' attorney, said the ballot language doesn't properly explain the effects of a yes vote.

"What I was struck by is how many hurdles an average voter would have to jump through to know what would happen if they voted in favor of that ballot question," Anthony said during Thursday's hearing.

The city, which in August argued that the ballot question needed an explanatory note that Anderson ultimately struck down, now says the proposal is fine without one.

"Is it sufficient to identify the amendment clearly? Is it sufficient to distinguish from every other question on the ballot at the same time? Is it a concise statement of the measure put on the ballot? The answer is yes," said Ivan Ludmer, an assistant city attorney.

Yes 4 Minneapolis, the activist group that collected petition signatures to get the measure on the ballot, argued that the time for explanations is during the campaign.

But the city residents suing to block the ballot language said the question should get sent back to the Minneapolis City Council.