Voting Rights Organizations Celebrate Important Victory in Case to Stop Illegal Voter Intimidation in Minnesota
October 26, 2020
MINNEAPOLIS—The Council on American-Islamic Relations of Minnesota (CAIR-MN) and the League of Women Voters of Minnesota today celebrated a major victory in their federal lawsuit against a private mercenary contractor, Atlas Aegis, for voter intimidation in Minnesota.
Their lawsuit alleges that Atlas Aegis’s plan to hire and deploy armed ex-soldiers to polling sites in the state—made public with an advertisement for armed security on election day in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area that appeared on job posting websites on October 6, 2020, as well as interviews with Anthony Caudle, the chairman of Atlas Aegis, in The Washington Post—constitutes illegal voter intimidation under the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The plaintiffs sought an immediate federal temporary restraining order, and the federal court scheduled a hearing on their motion for Monday, October 26, 2020.
Within hours after the plaintiffs’ federal lawsuit was filed, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced that a criminal investigation of Atlas Aegis was underway. Then, late Friday afternoon, the Attorney General filed in state court a petition for an order of discontinuance, in which Atlas Aegis agreed to an injunction that Atlas Aegis “not provide any protective agent services...in Minnesota from October 22, 2020 through January 1, 2022,” and “not seek to intimidate voters, in Minnesota or elsewhere, in connection with the election.”
The plaintiffs issued this joint statement following this court filing by the Minnesota Attorney General: “We are proud of the critical role we have played in helping to secure this important victory for the right to vote and for our democracy. We will remain vigilant with this case in continuing to fight to protect the voting rights of all Minnesota citizens and to block any attempt to intimidate voters leading into Election Day and during the vote-counting process following the election.”
League of Women Voters of Minnesota executive director Michelle Witte added, “Minnesota voters can rest easy tonight knowing that their polling places will remain free of sinister voter intimidation. We are grateful to the Minnesota Attorney General for negotiating an agreement that prevents the unlawful and threatening occupation of polling locations. New citizens and other voters of color have the right to peaceful, unimpeded access to the ballot, and the League will continue to stand up for these voters against any and all attacks on their safety and constitutional right to vote.”
The plaintiffs are represented by Free Speech For People, a nonpartisan nonprofit legal advocacy organization, Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP, and Lathrop GPM LLP.