Warriors for Justice legislative candidates Nicole Beaulieu and Greg Paquin were formally denied access to the fall ballot Monday by Beltrami County Auditor-Treasurer Kay Mack.
"My office has had an opportunity to review your nominating petition ... as required by statute, and unfortunately it does not meet the statutory requirements," Mack wrote in letters to the candidates.
Beaulieu and Paquin had sought DFL endorsement to run, but did not receive it. Rather than enter the DFL primary on Aug. 10, they decided to form their own party and petition to gain ballot access as Warriors for Justice candidates.
Beaulieu is seeking the post now held by Rep. John Persell, DFL-Bemidji, while Paquin seeks the seat held by Sen. Mary Olson, DFL-Bemidji.
Both Beaulieu and Paquin submitted petitions with more than the required 500 signatures to gain ballot access on June 1, the final day of filing for the fall elections.
Mack made an initial ruling on the petitions, saying they containing too many signatures with P.O. boxes, which is inadmissible as a petition address. Beaulieu claims someone in the Secretary of State's Office told her P.O. boxes were OK.
Mack had 10 days by state law to rule on the petitions, which ended Monday.
After the initial denial, Beaulieu said the American Civil Liberties Union-Minnesota was apprised of the case, and a representative told her that P.O. boxes should be admissible for reservation addresses.
County auditor's staff did a full abstract if Beaulieu's petition and found that of the 556 signatures on her petition, 140 had a post office box number and disallowed, 43 had addresses outside the House 4A district and ineligible, 19 listed no address at all, and five were found defective for other reasons.
Mack notes Beaulieu's concern about allowing P.O. box numbers for addresses on the reservation, but said her point becomes moot, as she still falls short of the necessary 500 signatures even if the P.O. box numbers are allowed.
"... even if my office counted the post office box addresses, the petitioner would still fall 11 signatures short of the required 500," Mack wrote.
Still, state statutes are very clear that people signing a petition must list their residence address, Mack states.
"You and Mr. Paquin 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 wrote. "I have spoken with both staff and legal counsel for the Secretary of state, and have been told that a post office box may not be used as a residence address.
"I was also 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."
Mack makes the same comments in her letter to Paquin.
Of his 557 signatures, 214 were found defective -- including 170 that included the post office box numbers. Also, 23 addresses were outside the Senate 4 district, 17 had no address, one was not legible and three are defective for other reasons.
In Paquin's case, had the P.O. box numbers been accepted, he would have had more than the required 500 signatures.
Mack notes that Beaulieu or Paquin can appeal her decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court.
Beaulieu has said that she and Paquin would attempt write-in campaigns should they not make the ballot, and that they may consider an appeal also.