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Ramsey County judge tosses latest challenge to Minnesota election results

Minneapolis Star Tribune logo Minneapolis Star Tribune 12/19/2020 Stephen Montemayor, Star Tribune
Tina Smith et al. looking at a laptop: US-NEWS-ELN-MINN-MS. © Glen Stubbe/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS US-NEWS-ELN-MINN-MS.

MINNEAPOLIS — A Ramsey County judge on Friday dismissed a late effort to challenge Minnesota's election results, dealing the latest in a long line of legal blows to Republican bids across the country to overturn the 2020 vote.

Chief District Judge Leonardo Castro sided with attorneys for Secretary of State Steve Simon and four Minnesota Democratic House members who argued that the challenges were not properly filed and lacked merit.

Attorney Susan Shogren Smith, in a series of lawsuits filed on behalf of multiple Minnesota voters, claimed "countless irregularities" in last month's election but offered no evidence of widespread fraud on a level that would invalidate the results.

She also raised questions about voting technology used in six Minnesota counties by Dominion Voting Systems, the target of unfounded claims by President Donald Trump and supporters that the company was part of a vast conspiracy to change votes.

Simon has said that Dominion had cleared state and federal certification. Trump, meanwhile, won five of the six counties that used the technology.

Minnesota election officials have repeatedly asserted that there was no "credible evidence" of vote manipulation or other fraud anywhere in the state last month.

Castro agreed with defendants Friday that he had jurisdiction only over the question of whether the Democrats in question had won their elections, an argument Smith did not present.

Charles Nauen, an attorney for the Democratic incumbents, also argued that Smith had failed to identify how any irregularities would have altered the outcome of any race.

Castro's dismissal comes as a related challenge to U.S. Sen. Tina Smith's election is pending. Judges in Clay and Dakota counties have dismissed similar suits, while the Minnesota Supreme Court recently rejected another attempt by Susan Shogren Smith to stop certification of the results.

In her Supreme Court and Ramsey County lawsuits, Smith argued that Simon improperly changed election law earlier this year when he entered into a court-approved consent decree to temporarily waive witness requirements on absentee ballots amid concerns about voting during the pandemic.

The Supreme Court concluded, and Castro agreed, that it was too late to litigate a rule change that had been effective months before the election.

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