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Complaint about St. Paul IRV vote moves forward in courts

Opponents of the plan to implement Instant Runoff Voting, or Ranked Choice Voting, in St. Paul will get another chance to press their complaint that supporters illegally used endorsements to get the measure passed last week.

A small turnout of voters by a small margin gave thumbs-up to a charter amendment that will allow ranked voting in St. Paul city and school board elections in 2011. Minneapolis used the method for the first time last week.

But opponents had charged in court that the pro-IRV literature illegally claimed endorsement by the DFL, the League of Women Voters and President Obama.

After a telephone hearing on the case, administrative Law Judge Kathleen Sheehy has ruled that the matter deserves a full hearing, scheduled for a three-judge panel on Nov. 18.

But don’t expect the judges to overrule the election, says the Minnesota Independent:

David Schultz, a political science and law professor at Hamline University, believes the odds of that happening are remote — even if IRV supporters ran afoul of election laws. “Judges never want to overturn elections,” he notes. “I think they’re barking at the moon on this one.”

But if the judges find merit to the allegations, they can levy a fine of up to $5,000 or refer the matter to a county attorney for consideration of criminal charges, Minnesota Independent says.

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