ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Supreme Court must decide in the next few days whether Donald Trump and Gov. Mike Pence should be removed from November's ballot in Minnesota.
The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party petitioned the court to disqualify the Republican standard bearers because the Minnesota GOP party didn't follow the strict letter of the law in choosing a slate of presidential electors and alternate electors for the Electoral College.
"The hang-up is in state law they’re required to do it through a convention process, and they didn't," Michael Brodkorb, a former Republican party official who writes for MinnPost, told KARE.
Minnesota has 10 electoral votes, and by law the parties are supposed to pick 10 electors and 10 alternates at their "delegate conventions" and submit a certificate of nomination at least 71 days before Election Day. Eight of those electors and eight of the alternates must represent the state's eight congressional districts.
"The Republican Party forgot to elect alternate presidential electors at the convention, which they had done in past elections, so what they needed to do, they needed to come up with a fix."
Secretary of State Steve Simon, the state's top elections administrator, informed Keith Downey, the state Republican Party chair, of the problem in August. Downey convened an emergency meeting of Minnesota GOP executive committee, which came up with a slate of alternate electors.
That certificate of nomination was submitted August 25, just before the deadline. It appeared the ballot crisis had passed.
But Ken Martin, the DFL Party, went to court to say his fellow Democrat, Secretary of State Steve Simon, shouldn't have accepted the Republicans' paperwork. His petition to the Minnesota Supreme Court cites the section of Minnesota's elections statutes, requiring the electors and alternates to be picked through the convention process.
What they could’ve done was called a convention, just for this purpose of satisfying the law, and making sure they were following the law in electing these electors," Brodkorb explained. "But they didn’t do that; they went this route of having the state executive committee do it."
Brodkorb said he hopes the Supreme Court justices will let this one slide for the good of the voters.
"My sense is they would want to take a do-no-harm type of approach, and can they find a way to show deference to the law that should be followed, while simultaneously not removing Trump directly from the ballot."
Downey, the Republican chair, issued a statement Friday verbally blasting the DFL petition as without merit. He insisted that Trump's name got on the ballot "fair and square" and that the Democrats' move is frivolous.
The Republicans didn't address the merits of the case in their legal filing with the Minn. Supreme Court Friday, but instead attacked the DFL petition using the legal concept of "laches" -- asserting that the case was brought so late that the state GOP party didn't have a fair opportunity to defend itself.
DFL officials responded to the "laches" argument by saying they brought the case as quickly as they could, once they realized the Republicans' error.
The justices asked Secretary of State Simon about the timing of getting ballots prepared, so they'd know how much time they could take to render a decision without disrupting the process.
Simon's filing on Friday said he would do whatever the court asked, but it would work best to have a ruling by Monday, Sept. 12. He faces a federally imposed deadline to mail absentee ballots to members of the military by Sept. 23.
Some observers believe the DFL doesn't seriously expect to keep Trump and Pence off the ballot, but wanted to use the Electoral College slate miscue to call attention to troubles within the state's GOP organization.
Brodkorb said to him it's symptomatic of issues the Trump organization faces in a state where his campaign hasn't had a huge presence. He placed third in the Minnesota GOP caucuses, behind Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.
"I think it’s fair to say that this problem happened because of a disconnect between the party and the Trump’s campaign. We’ve seen that from the beginning," Brodkorb remarked.
(© 2016 KARE)