Media Contact

Lynette Kalsnes,, 612-270-8531 

August 31, 2023

ANOKA, Minn. -- After fighting for years for the right to vote, two Minnesotans are suing to prevent that right from being yanked out from underneath them. 

Earlier this year, the Minnesota Legislature decided to restore the right to vote to 50,000 people with felony convictions who were out of prison and living in the community. Jennifer Schroeder and Elizer Darris were among those instrumental in helping win that right – and among the very first in the state to register when voting became legal on June 1. 

Both testified before the Legislature, lobbied and spoke at rallies for years to restore the vote for themselves and 50,000 others. Schroeder was infamously sentenced to 40 years of probation for drug possession, which barred her from voting until age 71; she became a drug and alcohol addiction counselor to help others. Darris is a prominent community organizer who registered people to vote even though he couldn’t vote himself.  

Now the Minnesota Voters Alliance (along with three individuals) seek to revoke that right and silence the voices and the vote of thousands. MVA filed suit in June challenging the new law, contending it violates the state Constitution, and the Legislature didn’t have authority to end the ban. 

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Minnesota and pro bono co-counsel Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP asked Anoka County District Court today to let them intervene on behalf of Schroeder and Darris to defend the new voting re-enfranchisement law.  

“Voting is one of the most fundamental rights and responsibilities we have as Americans, and our clients have fought long and successfully to make sure they and others could reclaim this power and have a say in their own futures,” said ACLU-MN staff attorney David McKinney. “The ACLU-MN will not stand idly by while a special-interest group attempts to steal their voice through this meritless lawsuit.” 

In 2019, the ACLU, ACLU-MN and Faegre Drinker filed suit to restore the vote on behalf of Schroeder, Darris and others. 

“Earlier this year, the Minnesota Supreme Court expressly held in our lawsuit that the government has broad discretion to determine how civil rights and the right to vote are restored following a felony conviction,” said Craig Coleman, a partner at Faegre Drinker. “Following that decision, Governor Walz signed into law a bill passed by the Legislature doing just that – restoring the right to vote to those not incarcerated but still under some form of government supervision.” 

"The decision to restore the vote ended a discriminatory law that led to racial disparities and inequality," said Julie Ebenstein, senior staff attorney with the ACLU's Voting Rights Project. "It was a critical step toward rehabilitation, redemption, and helping people rejoin their communities. The state should not move backward and take away a right the people have already won and are joyfully exercising." 

“I'm choosing to be part of this lawsuit because the people of Minnesota have spoken loudly: the democratic right to vote should include everyone,” Darris said. “When I initially championed this cause for those of us on felony probation, critics said the proper place for this debate was the Legislature, not the courts. We lobbied and passed this law. Yet here we are, facing a lawsuit aiming to negate our democratic process. I find it essential to be part of this legal battle to protect the voting rights that we've just regained, not just for me but for everyone else in my situation.” 

The ACLU-MN is part of the Restore the Vote Coalition, which fought for 20 years to win this right. 


2019: ACLU, ACLU-MN and Faegre Drinker file suit seeking to restore the vote on behalf of Schroeder, Darris and others. 

February 2023: The Minnesota Supreme Court rules in Schroeder, explicitly stating that the government has broad discretion to determine how civil rights and the right to vote are restored following a felony conviction. 

The Minnesota Legislature passes Restore the Vote legislation. 

March 2023: Governor Walz signs voter restoration into law. 

June 1, 2023: People who are living in the community on felony probation or supervision can now register and vote. 

June 29, 2023: The MVA sues to rescind this right. 

August 31, 2023: The ACLU, ACLU-MN and Faegre Drinker file a request to intervene in the lawsuit on behalf of Schoeder and Darris to protect voter restoration.