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S.F. No. 514 - Elections Omnibus Bill (Third Engrossment)
 
Author: Senator Mary Kiffmeyer
 
Prepared By: Alexis C. Stangl, Senate Counsel (651/296-4397)
 
Date: March 7, 2017



 

S.F. No. 514 is the election omnibus bill. Article 1 includes provisions on election administration. Article 2 includes provisions on uniform election dates, polling places, and polling hours. Article 3 requires counties to administer school district elections. Article 4 modifies voter status challenge provisions and establishes a provisional ballot system.

Article 1. Election Administration

This article modifies provisions relating to election administration and establishes an election equipment grant. This article includes S.F. 514 (election administration); S.F. 770 (municipal primary canvassing); S.F. 811 (time off for serving on a tribal council); and S.F. 838 (election equipment grant).

Section 1.  Leave of absence without pay.  Any appointed officer or employee of a local government who is elected to an Indian tribal council in Minnesota is entitled to an unpaid leave of absence when performing work for the tribal council.

Section 2.  Appointments to fill vacancies; special elections.  If a school board vacancy is filled by a special election, the person that wins the election takes office immediately after receiving the certificate of election, filing the bond, and taking the oath of office.

Section 3. Technology requirements. Adds security requirements for electronic rosters purchased after the effective date of this act.

Section 4.  Write-in candidates.  The deadline for accepting requests to count write-in votes is specified to be 5 p.m. on the last day to file the request.

Section 5.  Partisan offices.  Fixes an incorrect cross-reference.

Section 6. Notice to voters.  Fixes an incorrect cross-reference.

Sections 7 and 8.  State Canvass.  The State Canvassing Board is required to meet at a public meeting space located in the capitol complex area, instead of at the secretary of state’s office. Section 7 is for canvassing state primary elections and section 8 is for canvassing state general elections.

Section 9. Results. Allows a city to canvass primary election results on either the second or third day after the primary.

Section 10.  Date of election.  The decision to change city elections from an even-numbered year to an odd-numbered year (or vice versa) must be made at least 180 days before the first day to file for office in the next municipal election.

Section 11.  Vacancies in school district offices.  Fixes an incorrect cross-reference.

Section 12. Contracts required. Modifies required state contracts that the secretary of state must establish.

Section 13.  Form of presidential ballots.  Deletes obsolete language and makes conforming changes.

Section 14. Voting equipment grant.  

Subdivision 1. Voting equipment grant account.  A voting equipment grant is established to provide grants to counties, cities, and towns.  Funds are available until spent.

Subdivision 2.  Authorized equipment.  A county, city, or town may apply for a grant to purchase or lease electronic rosters, assistive voting technology, or automatic tabulating equipment after July 1, 2017.  A county, city, or town may apply to be reimbursed for equipment purchased before July 1, 2017.  Grant funds cannot be used for maintenance or repair.

Subdivision 3.  Amount of grant.  A county, city, or town is eligible to receive 75% of the total cost of the purchase or lease of electronic roster equipment or 50% of the total cost of the purchase or lease of assistive voting technology, or automatic tabulating equipment. Grants are first awarded to local governments that are purchasing or leasing new equipment. If funds remain, then grants may be made to reimburse local governments for past purchases or leases.

Subdivision 4.  Application for grant; certification of costs.  A county, city, or town may apply to the secretary of state for a grant. The application must include the total cost of the purchase or lease, how the local share will be paid, the plan to address long-term costs, and other information required by the secretary of state.  The secretary of state will establish a deadline for submitting grants. The secretary of state will also establish a procedure for awarding grants, the criteria for distribution of grants if funds do not completely cover the costs, and a process to verify that the grants are properly used.

Subdivision 5.  Report to legislature.  By January 15, 2018, the secretary of state must report to the legislature on grants awarded. A report must be submitted annually until all appropriated funds are spent.

Section 15.  Voting equipment grant account.  $5,000,000 is appropriated in fiscal year 2018 from the general fund to the secretary of state for the grants in section 14. This is a onetime appropriation.

Article 2. Uniform Election Dates

This article establishes four uniform dates throughout the year for local elections. This article includes SF 1226 (article 1; uniform election dates).

Section 7.  Special election.  A special election is defined to be an election held for a special purpose on one of the uniform election dates.

Section 8. Location; timing. During the 46 days before an election, a voter may vote in-person absentee during regular hours of the polling place.  Voters in line at the close of business must be allowed to vote.

Section 9. County auditor’s and municipal clerk’s offices to remain open during certain hours preceding election. Polling places may not be open at hours other than those specified in statute on the Saturday before the election and the day immediately before the election.  Voters in line at the close of business must be allowed to vote.

Section 10. Authority; location. Requires counties and municipalities to establish polling place by December 31 for the following year. Polling places may only be changed due to an emergency or if a polling place is unavailable.

Section 11. Preferred election dates. Whenever possible, special elections to fill a vacancy in a state legislative office must be held on a uniform date.

Section 13.  Uniform election dates.  A special election in a city or town must be held on one of the following dates: the fourth Tuesday in February, the second Tuesday in May, the second Tuesday in August (state primary date), or the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November (general election date). A special primary election must be held on a uniform date. A special election may only be held on a different date if it is held in response to an emergency or disaster.

Section 16. Uniform election dates.  A special election in a school district must be held on one of the following dates: the fourth Tuesday in February, the second Tuesday in May, the second Tuesday in August (state primary date), or the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November (general election date). A special primary election must be held on a uniform date. A special election may only be held on a different date if it is held in response to an emergency or disaster.

Section 28. Repealer. Repeals 204B.16, subd. 3 (polling place changes); and 205.10, subd. 3. (special election dates).

Section 29. This article is effective on January 1, 2018, and applies to elections held on or after that date.

The remaining sections in this article make conforming changes.

Article 3. School Election Administration

This article requires counties to conduct school district elections. This article includes S.F. 1226 (article 2; school election administration).

Section 3. Coordinating county. A coordinating county is the county where the school district administrative offices are located.

Section 4. Coordinating county auditor. The coordinating county auditor is the county auditor of the coordinating county.                                                          

Section 5. Administering county or administering counties. An administering county is a county, other than the coordinating county, that include any part of the school district.

Sections 12 – 18 require the coordinating county auditor and administering counties to administer absentee balloting for school district elections. The school district must reimburse the counties for the costs of administering absentee voting.

Section 22. Election expenses; payment. School districts must reimburse counties for the specified costs of conducting the school district election.

Section 42. Affidavit of candidacy. The coordinating county auditor must accept candidate filings for school board offices. 

Section 54 and 55. A school district canvassing board is established and is responsible for canvassing the election.

Section 60. Repealer. Repeals 201.096 (school use of statewide voter registration system); 205A.09 (school district voting hours); 205A.11, subdivisions 2 (school election combined polling places) and 3 (school district polling place procedures); and 205A.12, subdivision 5a (school district use of electronic voting systems).

Section 61.  Effective date.  This article is effective January 1, 2018 and applies to elections held on or after that date.

The remaining sections make conforming changes to transfer the election duties from the school clerk and school district to the county auditors and counties.

Article 4. Challenges; Voter Information

This article requires additional voter information to be public, modifies voter status challenge provisions, and establishes a provisional ballot system. This article includes S.F. 771 (public information lists); S.F. 772 (postelection sampling report); and S.F. 1225 (status challenge provisions).

Section 1.  Use of electronic access data.  Allows the sharing of electronic access data with a federal law enforcement agency.

Sections 2-5 add cross references in the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act to provisions later in the article.

Section 6. Personal knowledge. Personal knowledge is defined.

Section 7. Public information lists. The voter public information list must indicate each voter whose status is challenged in the statewide voter registration system at the time the list was prepared. For each voter, the list must include the history of each status change. The list must also include individuals that have been removed from the list. This provisions that require new data to be public apply to public information lists created on or after July 1, 2017 and no information collected prior to that date may be included on the list.

Section 8. Postelection sampling. Each county auditor must report the following to the secretary of state:  the total number of post-election notices that were returned as nondeliverable; the total number of the nondeliverable notices for which the county auditor could find the reason for the return; and the number of the nondeliverable notices for which the county auditor could not find the reason for the return.  In turn, the secretary of state must compile this information and report it to the legislature by March 1 of every odd-numbered year. This report must show the numbers for each precinct and for each county.                          

Section 9. Reports on guardianships, legal incompetence, felony convictions, and citizenship; status changes.  This section consolidates various reporting requirements by which the court administrator, the Department of Corrections, and the Department of Public Safety provide data to the secretary of state.

Subdivision 1.  Report requirements.  Required reports must be submitted electronically to the secretary of state daily or monthly.  Monthly reports must include a complete list of each individual under the reporting entity’s jurisdiction. The secretary of state must retain each of these reports and make them searchable by date in the statewide voter registration system.                        

Subdivision 2.  State court administrator report.  The state court administrator must report on individuals 17 years of age or older who are under guardianship whose right to vote has been revoked or who are legally incompetent to vote.  Within seven days of receiving a report, the secretary of state must determine if any person on the report is registered to vote and must prepare a list of those registrants for the county auditor. Then the county auditor challenges the voters in the statewide voter registration system.

Subdivision 3.  Commissioner of corrections report; state court administrator report.  The state court administrator must report on individuals who have been convicted of a felony. The commissioner of corrections must report on individuals 17 years of age or older who are currently serving a felony sentence or are on probation for a felony offense. Within seven days of receiving a report, the secretary of state must determine if any person on the report is registered to vote and must prepare a list of those registrants for the county auditor. Then the county auditor challenges the voters in the statewide voter registration system. The county auditor must also notify the county attorney of any individual that voted or registered to vote while his or her right to vote is revoked.

Subdivision 4.  Reports; restoration of right to vote.  The state court administrator must report on each individual whose right to vote has been restored. The commissioner of corrections must report on each individual who has been discharged from a sentence. Within seven days of receiving a report, the secretary of state must determine if any person on the report is registered to vote and must prepare a list of those registrants for the county auditor. Then the county auditor removes the challenge in the statewide voter registration system.

Subdivision 5.  Commissioner of public safety report.  The commissioner of public safety must report on individuals identified by the department data as noncitizens. Within seven days of receiving a report, the secretary of state must determine if any person on the report is registered to vote and must prepare a list of those registrants for the county auditor. Then the county auditor challenges the voters in the statewide voter registration system.  The county auditor must also immediately notify the county attorney that the individual is a noncitizen and is registered to vote.

Subdivision 6.  Notice of challenge.  Within seven days of changing the status of a voter, the county auditor must mail a notice to that person. The notice must include:  a statement that the voter’s status was challenged or a challenge was removed; the reason for that change; a copy of the information provided by the entity that was the basis for the status change; and how to contest the change in status.

Section 10.  Contesting a challenge.  An individual whose status was challenged pursuant to section 8 has the right to contest that challenge by filing a petition with the entity who provided the basis for the challenge.  The petition must state the basis for the contest and include any supporting documents. The petitioner may request a review meeting.  The meeting may be conducted by interactive video technology. Within seven days, the entity must review the petition and the data provided to the secretary of state.  If a meeting is requested, the meeting must be scheduled within 14 days.  The entity must then determine if the data is accurate or should be changed.  If no change is required, the entity must notify the individual.  If the entity determines that the data must be changed, the entity must promptly notify the individual and the secretary of state.  The secretary of state must remove the challenged status.  If an individual disagrees with the decision, the individual may appeal to the district court.

Section 11. Appointing authority; powers and duties. Election judges appointed from a source other than lists provided by the parties must provide a statement of party affiliation or a statement of party affiliation or a statement that the individual does not affiliate with a major party. A person must not be appointed as an election judge of he or she refuses to make this statement.

Section 12. Election judge major party affiliation; data classification. The major party affiliation of an election judge that serves at the state primary or state general election is public data.

Section 13.  Permanent registration; verification of registration.  An election judge must confirm a voter’s name, address, and date of birth before the voter signs the roster. A voter whose registration status is challenged must not be allowed to cast a regular ballot, but must be allowed to cast a provisional ballot. Whenever a challenge appears on the polling place roster, the challenge must be concealed from the view of any voter other than the voter whose status is challenged.

Section 14.  Manner of challenging.  An election judge or authorized challenger may challenge an individual based on personal knowledge.

Section 15. Statement of grounds; oath. The oath for a challenged voter is deleted and moved to section 16.

Section 16. Determination of residence.  Allows an individual that is challenged because of residency to self-certify residency in the precinct.  This is the only authorized use of self-certification.

Section 17.  Provisional ballots.  Provisional ballots are authorized and related requirements are imposed.

Subdivision 1.  Casting provisional ballots.  A voter whose status is challenged is entitled to cast a provisional ballot unless the challenge is resolved pursuant to section 16.  The voter must sign a provisional ballot roster and complete a provisional ballot envelope, which includes the voter’s name, address, date of birth, and voter identification number.  The voter must swear or affirm that he or she is eligible to vote and has not already voted.  The voter may then complete a provisional ballot, which is the same format as the official ballot.  The completed ballot is sealed in a secrecy envelope, which is then sealed in the provisional ballot envelop. The envelope is placed into a separate ballot box.

Subdivision 2. Accepting or rejecting provisional ballot envelopes. The county auditor or municipal clerk must accept or reject each provisional ballot envelope. The county auditor or municipal clerk must review information in the statewide voter registration system for the date of the election to determine if the voter was eligible to vote and was not challenged or was incorrectly challenged. If a ballot is rejected, the county auditor or municipal clerk must mail a notice to the voter stating the reason for the rejection.

Subdivision 3.  Provisional ballots; reconciliation.  Before counting provisional ballots, the county auditor must verify that that the number of signatures on the provisional ballot roster is equal or greater than the number of accepted provisional ballots.  Any discrepancy is resolved in the same manner as other ballots.

Subdivision 4. Counting provisional ballots. Accepted provisional ballot envelopes must be opened and the ballots counted.

Section 18.  Violations; penalty.  It is a felony for a person to misrepresent his or her identity in requesting a provisional ballot or requesting a provisional ballot to be counted.  It is a felony for a challenger to challenge a voter's eligibility, knowing that the challenge is not meritorious.

Section 19. Establishment. Makes a confirming change to a cross-reference.

Section 20. Repealer. Repeals 201.15 (district judge, report guardianships and commitments); 201.155 (report on felony convictions); 201.157 (use of department of corrections data); and 201.158 (use of department of public safety data). 

 
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