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S.F. No. 514 - Elections Omnibus Bill (Fourth Engrossment)
 
Author: Senator Mary Kiffmeyer
 
Prepared By: Alexis C. Stangl, Senate Counsel (651/296-4397)
 
Date: May 8, 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.

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.  Special elections to fill school board vacancies must be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.  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.  Original signature.  Specifies that original signatures are not electronic signatures.

Section 4. Technology requirements. Adds security requirements for electronic rosters purchased after the effective date of this act.

Section 5.  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 6.  Partisan offices.  Fixes an incorrect cross-reference.

Section 7. Notice to voters.  Fixes an incorrect cross-reference.

Sections 8 and 9.  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 10. Results. Allows a city to canvass primary election results on either the second or third day after the primary.

Section 11.  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 12.  Vacancies in school district offices.  Fixes an incorrect cross-reference.

Section 13. Contracts required. Modifies required state contracts that the secretary of state must establish.

Section 14.  Form of presidential ballots.  Deletes obsolete language and makes conforming changes.

Section 15. 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 16.  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.

Sections 1 to 6.  Make conforming changes.

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 12.  Effect of ordinance.  Makes conforming changes.

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 14.  Vacancies in town offices.  Makes conforming changes.

Section 15.  Town voting hours.  Allows towns to retain current polling place hours for town elections.

Section 16.  Questions.  Makes conforming changes.

Section 17. 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.

Sections 8 to 28.  Makes conforming changes.

Section 29. Repealer. Repeals 204B.16, subdivision 3 (polling place changes); and 205.10, subdivision 3 (special election dates).

Section 30. 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. Current election duties assigned to school district clerks are re-assigned to the county auditors.

Sections 1 and 2. Makes conforming changes.

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.

Section 6. Establishment. Transfers school election duties relating to the SVRS to the county auditor.

Sections 7 and 8. Transfers school election duties relating to Election Day registration to the county auditor.

Sections 9 and 10. Removes school districts from the authorization to use electronic rosters.

Section 11. Knowledge of violation. Makes a conforming change.

Sections 12 to 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 19. County elections emergency plans. Removes school districts from the authorization to establish an election emergency plan.

Section 20. Training for local election officials. Makes a conforming change.

Section 21. Election judges; election supplies; duties. Transfers school election duties relating to election judges and election supplies to the county auditor.

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

Section 23. Ballots; election records and other materials; disposition; inspection of ballots. Transfers school election duties relating to retaining election materials to the county auditor.

Section 24. Mail elections; questions. Makes a conforming change.

Sections 25 to 28. Transfers school election duties relating to ballots to the county auditor.

Sections 29 to 31. Transfers school election duties relating to election returns to the county auditor.

Sections 32 to 35. Transfers school election duties relating to recounts and election contests to the county auditor.

Sections 36 and 37. Makes conforming changes.

Section 38. Results. School district primary elections are canvassed on either the second or third day after the primary. The school district canvassing board canvasses the results.

Sections 39 and 40. Requires the school board to notify the county auditor if the date of an election is changed or if an election is cancelled.

Section 41. Postponement of election. The county auditor may postpone a school district election due to bad weather.

Sections 42 to 45. Transfers school election duties relating to candidate filing to the county auditor.

Sections 46 to 50. Transfers school election duties relating to notice and posting to the county auditor.

Sections 51 and 52. Transfers school election duties relating to ballots to the county auditor.

Section 53. Election, conduct. Makes a conforming change.

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

Section 56. Notice of special elections. Transfers school election duties relating to notice of special elections to the county auditor.

Sections 57 and 58. Makes conforming changes.

Section 59. Revisor’s instructions. Requires the revisor to make necessary corrections to cross-references and to make any changes to language to reflect the changes in this article.

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.

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.

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

Sections 2 to 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.  Registration by election judges; procedures.  An election judge must review the list of challenged voters before registering a person to vote.  If a person is on the list, he or she cannot register or vote.

Section 8. 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 9. 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 10. 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 for a minimum of four years, and make them searchable by date in the statewide voter registration system.  During the week before the election, the secretary of state must prepare a list for each precinct of each challenged individual.                    

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 having a temporary lawful status. 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 11.  Contesting a challenge.  An individual whose status was challenged pursuant to Section 10 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 12. 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 13.  Access to election judge party affiliation. The major party affiliation of an election judge is accessible to other election judges in the precinct.

Section 14.  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. Unless the challenge is resolved as provided in Section 17, 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 15.  Manner of challenging.  An election judge or authorized challenger may challenge an individual based on personal knowledge.

Section 16. Statement of grounds; oath. The oath for a challenged voter is deleted and moved to Section 17.

Section 17. 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 18.  Provisional ballots.  Provisional ballots are authorized and related requirements are imposed.

Subdivision 1.  Casting provisional ballots.  Unless the challenge is resolved, as provided in Section 17, a voter whose status is challenged is entitled to cast a provisional ballot. 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 19.  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 20. Establishment. Makes a confirming change to a cross-reference.

Section 21.  Initial report on guardianships, legal incompetence, felony convictions, citizenship, and status changes.  The court administrator, commissioner of corrections, and the commissioner of public safety must each submit an initial report to the secretary of state.  The report must include a list of all individuals identified.  The secretary of state must enter all of the information into the SVRS and maintain the report indefinitely.

Section 22. 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). 

Section 23.  Effective date.  This article is effective July 1, 2017. 

 
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