Ballot Box Blunder?

THE LEADING VOTE-GETTER in the 12th Ward primary to select a successor to Minneapolis City Council member Dennis Schulstad may face criminal charges due to her conduct at polling places on the day of the contest. According to a complaint filed with the Hennepin County attorney's office last Friday, election judges at eight polling places claim to have seen candidate Sandy Colvin Roy introducing herself and shaking hands with voters. Colvin Roy is also alleged to have passed out campaign literature at two of these locales.

According to Minnesota law, charges can be brought against anyone trying to persuade or influence voters within a polling place. "Nobody is accusing Ms. Colvin Roy of stuffing the ballot boxes, but there are some things here that go beyond the mere appearance of impropriety," says John Povesjil, a private attorney hired by a 12th Ward resident to ensure that the county attorney's office proceeds with charges against Colvin Roy if there is probable cause to believe she broke the law. Unless the county attorney's office can prove that her actions influenced the outcome (Colvin Roy garnered 54 percent of the vote; challengers Jeff Paulson and Greg Iverson captured 35 percent and 10 percent respectively), Povesjil acknowledges that the transgression "is a petty misdemeanor, and carries a small fine." The complaint seems designed to send a message that Colvin Roy needs to change her behavior in November. As Povesjil advises, "When you're a candidate, you go to a movie or take a walk on election day."

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