Mille Lacs Co. judge interfering with felons’ right to vote: AG Ellison

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced Friday that his office has intervened in two cases where a Mille Lacs County judge prevented felons from voting. 

Mille Lacs County District Court Judge Matthew M. Quinn, in at least six recent cases, has sentenced people convicted of felonies to probation. He then issued an order declaring Minnesota’s new Restore the Vote law unconstitutional, effectively barring the felons from voting, according to a release sent by the Attorney General’s office.

The new voting law lets convicted felons vote as long as they are not currently incarcerated for their offense.

Two individuals affected by this have filed a writ of prohibition at the Minnesota Court of Appeals, according to the release. A writ of prohibition is filed when a district court exceeds its authority and is meant to check the power of district courts.

"Judicial restraint and respect for the separation of powers are essential principles of our justice system. When either of those principles is violated, Minnesotans lose trust in the system — and Judge Quinn has violated both principles," Ellison said in a statement. "It took two decades to pass a law to restore the right to vote to people who are longer incarcerated, and the new law that restores that right is fully constitutional. Minnesotans should know Judge Quinn’s illegal orders have no effect on their voting rights."

Ellison’s office says it has filed notices to intervene in two cases, filing memorandums in support of the two individuals. 

Secretary of State Steve Simon also provided a statement in support of Ellison for these legal efforts.

"We cannot allow for any distortion of the rules for voter eligibility in Minnesota. Local elections in communities across Minnesota will take place in just 18 days — on November 7. And voting in Minnesota’s 2024 presidential nominating primary starts just 13 weeks from today — on January 19," Simon said in the statement. "Minnesota has a proud tradition of showing up at the polls in nation-leading numbers, and I know that will continue."