Group challenges ban on tea party buttons at pollsby Rupa Shenoy, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — A coalition of groups says it's going to court to challenge bans on tea party and Minnesota Majority clothing and buttons in polling places.
Election Integrity Watch is a coalition that includes the North Star Tea Party Patriots, the Minnesota Voters Alliance and Minnesota Majority.
They accuse Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and officials in Hennepin and Ramsey counties of deliberately misinterpreting a state statute that prohibits political speech in polling places.
Erick Kaardal, a lawyer representing the group, said election officials are unfairly targeting conservative groups.
"We can't have our election officials who are supposed to uphold the law, violating the law," he said. "This is democratically disgusting. We need to demand that these election officials stop now."
Most of the parties named in the suit said they hadn't seen the lawsuit. U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison attended the press conference and said the group is attempting to cast itself as a victim.
"I think that this lawsuit is something that they're trying to do simply because it is going to bring publicity to their cause," Ellison said. "What is their cause? To reduce the electorate so that people who they don't agree with won't be able to fairly participate.
The coalition says the Tea Party and Minnesota Majority are not political groups, and banning their clothing and buttons from polling places violates freedom of speech.
The groups say they will file their lawsuit Friday morning.