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Minnesota high court OKs ballot question on PD

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Supreme Court cleared the way Thursday for voters in Minneapolis to decide on the future of policing in the city where George Floyd was killed, just ahead of the start of early and absentee voting.

The state’s highest court overturned a lower court ruling that rejected ballot language approved by the City Council. A district judge said the wording failed to adequately describe the effects of a proposed charter amendment that would replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a new Department of Public Safety that “could include” police officers “if necessary.”

But Chief Justice Lorie Gildea said in a three-page order that the justices concluded the challenge to the ballot language did not meet the “high standard” the court set in earlier cases. She said the court will issue a full opinion laying out its legal reasoning sometime later to avoid impeding the start of voting.

“Now voters have the opportunity to make their voices heard on this ballot question,” City Attorney Jim Rowader said.

The Supreme Court was under pressure to rule quickly because early and absentee voting opens at 8 a.m. today in the Minneapolis municipal elections. The ballots were already being printed when Hennepin County District Judge Jamie Anderson ruled against the language Tuesday. It was the second time she struck down the wording. Gildea put the case on the fast track Wednesday.

Lawyers on both sides had said they expected the high court ruling allowing the ballot language to be the final word, given the late hour. Leaders of the pro-amendment Yes 4 Minneapolis campaign have a rally set for Friday afternoon.

“We’re all very pleased that the system worked,” said Terrance Moore, an attorney for Yes 4 Minneapolis. “As ugly as it sometimes looks, the process went through from beginning to end and in the end the Supreme Court followed the law and its precedent.”

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