Paquin appeals ballot ruling to Supreme CourtGreg Paquin, the Senate 4 Warriors for Justice candidate denied ballot access by Beltrami County Auditor-Treasurer Kay Mack, has appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court. By: Brad Swenson, Bemidji Pioneer
He alleges that the 170 names Mack denied because they contained only P.O. box numbers should have been admitted as many reservation residents do not use physical resident addresses.
American Indians living on the reservation provided only P.O. box numbers “for many different reasons, i.e. fear, homelessness, which Kay Mack could have verified through a phone call to the post office regarding the owner of the P.O. box address system or a much easier way which would have been to cross reference any of these names who are registered voters who used those same P.O. box addresses to elect Barack Obama and Al Franken,” Paquin said in his petition.
Paquin and House 4A candidate Nicole Beaulieu filed petitions under the Warriors for Justice banner for the Nov. 2 election. Each needed 500 valid signatures to secure the ballot, but Mack disallowed signatures chiefly because they carried only P.O. boxes and not physical addresses, as charged by state law.
Paquin’s petition had 557 names. Mack ruled 214 signatures as invalid, with 170 having the P.O. box number problem. Another 23 addresses were outside the Senate 4 district and 17 had no addresses at all. Four were dismissed for other reasons.
“The statute and rules are very clear that persons signing a nominating petition must list their residence address,” Mack said in her ruling.
In an earlier interview, Mack denied that her decision involved “institutional racism.”
“When the laws were drafted, they weren’t drafted with any specific race, with any specific geographical area or person in mind,” Mack said. “Election law just literally wants to be sure that there is one person, one vote, and to precinct them. They have to put them in a physical location for their residence. And that’s consistent across all election law.”
People can’t reside in a P.O. box, Mack said.
Paquin also claims he had contacted staff at the Secretary of State’s Office to ask about P.O. box numbers and was told that “P.O. box along with township cited would suffice …” He mentions the staff member by name in the petition.
“You indicated that you spoke with someone at the Secretary of State’s Office and were told that post office boxes are acceptable to show residence,” Mack said in her June 14 decision. “I have spoken with both staff and legal counsel for the secretary of state, and have been told that staff at the Secretary of State’s Office would not have indicated to anyone calling the office that a post office box was acceptable.”
Paquin is asking the Supreme Court to place his name under the Warrior for Justice Party label on the Nov. 2 ballot. He is also asking , on Beaulieu’s behalf, to have her name placed on the ballot.
“This law Kay Mack cites to deny the Warriors for Justice ballot status has the effect of unduly inhibiting tribal self-governance which violates the preemption test and the infringement test the federal government assesses cases regarding state civil jurisdiction on Indian reservations,” Paquin wrote in his petition.
In an order signed by Chief Justice Lorie Gildea, the case was set for scheduling the filing of documents and affidavits of service. It was also given expedited status.
The case, A101177, is Gregory Wayne Paquin vs. Kay Mack, Beltrami County Auditor.
Note: This very issue has already been addressed, only recently, by the Arizona Supreme Court which has ruled that P.O. Box Addresses on petitions is adequate. The Arizona Supreme Court ruling was not appealed to the federal courts because in the United States it is generally regarded that the right of all to vote and run for public office is the cornerstone and foundation of democracy, and all who would look for ways to disenfranchise people seeking to participate in the political process are generally viewed as opponents of democracy.
Minnesota Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie, has been an active participant in this sleazy campaign aimed at denying the Warriors for Justice ballot status because he fears a defeat for Democrats State Representative John Purcell and State Senator Mary Olson.
It is widely believed here in Minnesota that mark Ritchie intentionally instructed his staff to provide the Warriors for Justice with misinformation which would be typical of the shenanigans Democrats and Republicans typically pull here in Minnesota to protect their candidates from third party challengers.
In fact, the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party is owned by the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association which fears the enforcement of affirmative action on public works jobs projects like the Bemidji Regional Event Center (BREC) because it will force up wages at the casinos in Minnesota--- thus costing the mobsters who own the slot machines and table games millions of dollars a year as they would be forced to pay out real living wages rather than the poverty wages under the most Draconian working conditions now the lot of some 40,000 casino workers forced to work in smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages while U.S. and Minnesota tax-payers are forced to foot the bills for welfare and healthcare to pay for those things these poverty wage receiving casino workers can not afford.
It is no coincidence that it was the issue of affirmative action intentionally not being enforced by Democrats and Republicans in hiring on the planning, construction, staffing and maintenance of Bemidji Regional Event Center that was the catalyst for the creation of the Warriors for Justice in addition to a number of outstanding grievances suffered by Native American Indians in Bemidji, which is commonly referred to as "the most racist city in North America" where Native American Indians had their lands and resources--- the wealth--- stolen out from under them as they were forced to live in the enforced poverty of a reservation system while being systematically denied equality in employment and access to government services available to everyone else while using the glorification of Native American Indian heritage, culture, language and original way of life of living in harmony with Nature as a tourist drawing card even as the politicians disgracefully enforce institutionalized racism to which the well-heeled tourist crowd is completely oblivious as they enjoy what Native American Indians protected for centuries as they pluck their "spare change" into slot machines while being served by poverty wage paid employees as they refuse to look at the deplorable housing conditions and homelessness that is part and parcel of the rampant racist poverty driven by racist unemployment and poverty wages.
It is rather ironic that the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association spends tens of millions of dollars every election cycle bribing Minnesota's politicians yet not one single Native American Indian is sitting among the more than 200 Minnesota State Legislators or its large Congressional delegation in one of the states with the highest Native American Indian population.
Greg Paquin, a union pipe-fitter, got the idea of the name of Warriors for Justice from Stewart Acuff, a leading organizer for the AFL-CIO who has called upon all working people to become "warriors for justice;" see page 83 of Acuff's new book written with Minnesotan Richard Levins--- "Getting America Back To Work." Apparently, once again, Native American Indians are supposed to just sit patiently by living in poverty as others get jobs.
In another twist of racist irony, the Minnesota AFL-CIO, which has become nothing more than a rubber stamp for the racist policies of the the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party, has remained quiet regarding the intentional lack of enforcement of affirmative action in hiring and in politics.
It is of interest to note that Jessee Jackson and the president of the UAW have called for a march for "peace and social justice" but they have refused to address the problems of Native American Indians.
Gregory W. Paquin, a union pipe-fitter and candidate for Minnesota Senate District 4 along with Nicole Beaulieu, a teacher and youth worker and candidate for Minnesota House District 4-A, deserve the support of all working people as they advance the struggle for workers rights, human rights and fight to end the poverty bred by institutionalized racism which drags down not only the immediate victims, but the living standards and quality of life for all of us. Let's all find ways to demonstrate our solidarity and support for Greg Paquin, Nicole Beaulieu and the Warriors for Justice because their struggle for justice will make democracy for meaningful for all of us.
Alan L. Maki
Director of Organizing,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council