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Legislative candidate seeks ballot ruling from high court

A candidate for House District 31B plans to petition the Minnesota Supreme Court to determine whether he can legally remain on the November ballot.

Independent candidate Al Hein of Mabel announced Friday he has decided to file the petition to put an end to all the questions about his candidacy.

"The reason I am doing it is because it has taken the focus completely off of the campaign," Hein said.

Last week, Fillmore County Auditor and Treasurer Shirl Boelter sent a letter to all of the candidates saying that she had determined that Hein had failed to get the 500 voter signatures required to file for office. State law requires that non-major party candidates gather the signatures since independent candidates are not subject to the primary election. But Boelter said all of the general election ballots had already been printed in Fillmore and Houston counties and she did not believe she had the authority to take Hein's name off the ballot. Hein said he did not know about the requirement when he filed for office.

DFL candidate Steve Kemp of Spring Valley and GOP state Rep. Greg Davids of Preston both raised concerns that having Hein's name on the ballot could lead to the election results being legally challenged — no matter who won. But Kemp and Davids said they had no intention of petitioning the Supreme Court to get Hein's name taken off the ballot. The only other option would be for a resident of the district to file a petition.


Kemp issued the following statement upon hearing that Hein planned to petition the court:

"I commend Al Hein for attempting to correct his error by petitioning the relevant state officials for a quick resolution to the ballot problem that we recently were informed of. It is of the utmost importance that our elections be free and fair."

In an interview, Davids said that he just wants a free and fair election.

"The facts are very clear. (Hein) did not file a proper petition to be put on the ballot. Therefore, he is on the ballot improperly," he said.

Hein said he expects the petition to be filed shortly. He said the ballot confusion raises questions about a change to state law made in 2008 allowing statewide candidates to file for office in their local counties. At the time he filed, he said there was no mention of him needing the petition. The Minnesota Supreme Court recently ruled on another ballot question in Douglas County where a candidate had accidentally wrote his party affiliation as "independent" instead of "Independence Party." A resident filed a petition with the court asking the candidate's name be taken off the ballot because of the confusion, but the court sided with the candidate.

Hein said he believes requiring independent candidates like himself to get 500 signatures should be unconstitutional. He said the ballot confusion has also raised questions about the obstacles put before candidates not affiliated with a major party.

"Win or lose, I don't care," Hein said. "We've highlighted the issue."

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