‘Don’t vote for me,’ says Colorado woman on Minnesota’s presidential primary ballot

· Jan. 29, 2024, 2:58 pm
20221102-EARLY-VOTONG-BALLOT-DROP-AURORA20221102-EARLY-VOTONG-BALLOT-DROP-AURORAHart Van Denburg/CPR News
An early voting ballot drop box station at the Aurora Municipal Building, Nov. 3, 2022.

Krystal Gabel has a Google alert set up for her name, and recently, the Brush, Colorado, resident got a completely unexpected hit. It said she is a candidate for president.

“Please do not vote for me. Please do not vote for Krystal Gabel in this race,” she said in an interview with CPR News.

Gabel is a cannabis activist and past candidate for local office in her hometown on the Eastern Plains.

Her name is on the ballot for Minnesota’s presidential primary on March 5 under the Legal Marijuana Now Party, which is classified as a major political party in the state.

Gabel has worked with the party’s Nebraska chapter in the past, and she said state law allowed the Minnesota party to put her name forward for the 2024 ballot without her permission.

“I was put on the ballot against my consent, and that very much felt like a violation of not only my privacy but of my constitutional rights,” she said. “It even felt very physically icky and violating.”

Dennis Schuller from the party told CPR News in an email that Gabel “had been in on discussions about the Minnesota and Nebraska primaries and 2024 election plans.”

Since Gabel has asked to be withdrawn, her name does not appear on the Legal Marijuana Now Party’s candidate list on its website.

But getting her name taken off Minnesota’s primary ballot has proven impossible. Early voting started Jan. 19, with Gabel listed as a candidate for the Legal Marijuana Now Party, and the ballots won’t be revised – just as people who have dropped out of the Republican race are still listed.

Gabel’s objections to being listed as a candidate aren’t about the issues central to the party; she deeply believes marijuana should be legal.

“It means freedom from pharmaceuticals, it means choice over alcohol,” she said. She sees promise in tax money generated by sales, too. “Cannabis could change our world,” she said.

But Gabel thinks this is a particularly bad year to have a non-candidate on a ballot. She said it’s “siphoning off votes,” when those votes “could be going to legitimate candidates.”

She hopes the rules about how candidates get put on the ballot will be changed.

“They need to close that loophole because it's going to keep being exploited in major elections in the future as well if we don't fix this,” she said.

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