Secretary of State Mark Ritchie is vindicated — for now.
An administrative law judge on Thursday threw out a complaint from two GOP senators accusing Ritchie of abusing his office to misinform the public about the costs and effects of proposed voting amendment.
Republican Sens. Mike Parry and Scott Newman, the amendment’s chief Senate author, filed the complaint on Oct. 1. Judge Bruce Johnson, who initially found the complaint had probable cause on its face, determined after a mid-October tele-hearing that there wasn’t enough evidence to move forward with the complaint.
Parry, reached shortly after the decision, said he’d only had the opportunity to read through the judge’s order once.
“Obviously, its disappointing out of the chute, but we haven’t digested everything yet,” Parry said, adding that he, Newman and their attorney Fritz Knaak have until Monday to appeal to a different judge.
Johnson threw out all of the violations that Parry and Newman alleged, including that Ritchie violated state law by misleading voters through statements in a campaign against the amendment.
Ritchie has traveled the state for what he has called educational visits to talk about the amendment’s potential effects, which he says include an effective end to same-day registration and the implementation of provisional balloting.
Parry and Newman said that Ritchie, through his website, was promoting false information about those effects – they argued that little would change other than a photo ID requirement at the polls – and the ballot question’s potential costs. Johnson said in his order that the disagreements between both sides were matters of opinion and didn’t violate Minnesota law.