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S.F. No. 2381 - Election Omnibus Bill (First Engrossment)
 
Author: Senator Katie Sieben
 
Prepared By: Alexis C. Stangl, Senate Counsel (651/296-4397)
 
Date: March 30, 2016



 

SF 2381 is the elections omnibus bill.  The bill is organized into four articles:   Article 1, Election Administration; Article 2, Election Emergency Plans; and Article 3, Absentee Voting.  The omnibus bill includes the following bills, as amended by the Subcommittee on Elections:  SF 206, SF 262, SF 2393, SF 2457, SF 2458, SF 2495, SF 2571, SF 2725, and SF 2807.

Article 1

Election Administration

This article makes various changes relating to the administration of elections.  The requirements for school board special elections to fill a vacancy are amended.  Seventeen-year olds may submit voter registration applications; this is often referred to as pre-registration.  Modifications are made to electronic voting systems requirements.  Certain requirements relating to nominating petitions are changed.  This article includes language from SF 206, SF 262, SF 2393, SF 2725, and SF 2807

Section 1 requires a vacancy on a school board to be filled by appointment until a special election is held. A special election must be held on or before the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November ("election day"). If the vacancy occurs within 90 days before election day, the special election must be held on or before election day of the following year. If the vacancy occurs within 90 days before election day in the third year of the term, no special election is required.

Section 2 allows 17 year-olds to submit a voter registration application.

Section 3 provides a cross-reference to the preregistration authorization in Section 4.

Section 4 allows 17 year-olds that meet all voter registration requirements except for age, to submit a voter registration application.  Seventeen year-olds cannot vote and must not appear on a polling place roster.

Section 5 amends the eligibility certification on voter registration applications to reflect the ability of 17 year-olds to submit a voter registration application.

Section 6 states that data on 17-year-old voter registration applicants do not become public information until the voter is registered or has voting history.

Section 7 allows a deaf, deafblind, or hard-of-hearing party convention delegate to notify the executive committee of the need for interpreter services by email.

Section 8 provides that a UOCAVA application for an absentee ballot is valid through the end of a calendar year or through the next regularly scheduled state general election, whichever is later.

Section 9 prohibits presidential and vice-presidential candidates who filed by a nominating petition from appearing on the ballot as minor party or independent candidates if either candidate is certified as a major party candidate.

Section 10 modifies the statement on a nominating petition so that it no longer states that the signer of the petition does not intend to vote at the primary election for the office that appears on the nominating petition.

Section 11 deletes an obsolete cross-reference.

Section 12 allows the Secretary of State to change soil and water commissioner districts in limited situations after a municipal boundary change.

Section 13 deletes the height, depth, and width requirements for voting booths.

Section 14 allows a jurisdiction that uses an electronic voting system to omit information on a paper ballot and instead display it on a touch screen or other electronic device. 

Section 15 requires ballots to be mailed to city voters in a mail election. This change reflects a change that was made in 2013 that allows cities with fewer than 400 voters to conduct mail balloting.

Section 16 clarifies that a petition requesting a challenger to be appointed for a local government ballot question election must be delivered to the clerk of the city, town, or school board that is conducting the election.

Section 17 deletes the limit on the number of voters one person may assist in voting at an election.

Section 18 requires the precinct summary statements to include the number of voted ballots indicating only a voter's choices.

Section 19 deletes the requirement that precinct summary statements be sent to the Secretary of State by express mail or delivery. This change reflects a change that was made in 2015 that no longer requires county auditors to deliver a set of summary statements to the Secretary of State.

Section 20 requires that the county auditor to notify the Secretary of State of a correction of an obvious error by U.S. mail and electronic mail, instead of the current requirement of using certified mail.

Section 21 changes the title of the state partisan primary ballot to the state primary ballot.

Section 22 eliminates the separate state and county nonpartisan ballot and includes these races on the state primary ballot.

Section 23 reduces the required number of signatures on a nominating petition to fill a vacancy in the office of state senator or state representatives if a shorter filing period than normal.

Section 24 requires the Secretary of State to send a certified copy of a writ of election to the county auditor by U.S. mail and electronic mail, instead of the current requirement of using certified mail.

Section 25 requires a notice of a special election to fill the vacancy for state senator or state representative to include the number of signatures required on a nominating petition if that number is reduced pursuant to section 23 of the bill.

Section 26 clarifies that when more than one city council member is to be elected for a full term, the candidates must be placed on the ballot under one office and the number to be elected must be specified.

Section 27 changes the period before the election in which a municipality can cancel a special election from 46 days to 74 days. This change reflects a change made in 2015 related to school district elections.

Section 28 clarifies that when more than one school board member is to be elected for a full term, the candidates must be placed on the ballot under one office and the number to be elected must be specified.

Section 29 requires special elections to fill a vacancy on a school board must be held pursuant to the process described in section 1.

Section 30 requires affidavits of candidacy for school board candidates to be the same as all other affidavits of candidacy.

Section 31 deletes language regarding school board elections that are held on the date of the annual town meeting.

Section 32 requires an electronic voting system to generate a marked paper ballot that shows the voter’s selections. Using multiple formats of electronic voting systems within a jurisdiction is not a violation of the voter’s right to vote in secret so long as the format of electronic voting system used by a voter is not recorded.

Section 33 provides that if there is a recount or postelection review in a precinct where multiple ballot formats are used, a ballot style that was used by ten or fewer voters in the precinct must be combined with the ballots of another precinct. The ballots must be only combined with ballots of another precinct so that the combined number of each format is ten or higher.

Section 34 adds a cross-reference to notice of contest procedures elsewhere in statute. This section also makes grammatical changes.

Section 35 allows election officials to use the remaining supply of voter registration forms for applicants who are 18-years-old or older.  For 17-year-old applicants, a voter registration application must meet the requirements of Section 5.  Any new applications that are printed must meet the requirements of Section 5.

Section 36 repeals two laws relating to school board vacancies; these repealers are consistent with changes made in section 1.  Section 35 is repealed in 2017 because it will become obsolete.

Section 37 provides an immediate effective date for sections relating to school board special elections and voter pre-registration.

Article 2

Election Emergency Plans

This article allows local governments to respond to an elections emergency by combining polling places, relocating polling places, and keeping polls open for an additional hour. The secretary of state must develop a state elections emergency plan and a guide to assist local governments.  Counties are required to develop an elections emergency plan.  The legislation in this article was recommended by the Elections Emergency Planning Task Force that met throughout 2015.  This article includes language from SF 2457 and 2458.

Section 1 allows election officials to combine two or more polling places after May 1 without following the regular procedures to combine polling placed in case of an emergency.  Local election officials must immediately notify the county auditor and Secretary of State of the combination of polling places, the reason for the combination, and the location of the combined polling place. The local elections official must also notify election judges and request the local media to announce the reason for the combination and the location of the new polling place. The local elections official must also post required notices.

Section 2, subdivision 1, allows election officials to change a polling place in an emergency without following the normal procedures.
 

Subdivision 2 requires election officials to procure a polling place that is as near to the designated polling place as possible that allows for access by elderly and persons with disabilities and that does not sell intoxicating liquors or nonintoxicating malt beverages.  If it is not possible to locate a new polling place in the precinct, it may be located outside of the precinct and the normal one mile distance limitation does not apply.  Expenses incurred because of the change are paid as part of the expenses of the election.

Subdivision 3 requires the local election official to notify the county auditor and Secretary of State of the relocation, the reason for it, and the location of the new polling place. The election official must notify the election judges and ask the local media to publicly announce the reason for the relocation and the location of the new polling place.  The election official must also post the required notices.

Section 3, subdivision 1 requires the Secretary of State, along with the Governor and the director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, to develop a state elections emergency plan. The Secretary of State, in consultation with the Minnesota State Council on Disability, must also create a state guide to assist local governments in developing a local plan. The guide must include a model county elections emergency plan. 

Subdivision 2 requires a county to develop a county elections emergency plan to be used in all elections in the county.  If the county contains jurisdictions that cross county lines, the counties must work together to ensure that the procedures are uniform throughout the jurisdiction.  Cities, towns, and school districts may create local elections emergency plans; if so, the local plan governs all election emergencies within the jurisdiction.  Local government officials must review their elections emergency plan prior to each state general election.  Revisions to the plan must be filed with the Secretary of State by July 1 in a state general election year.

This section is effective on August 1, 2016. The initial required plans are due September 1, 2016.

Section 4 allows election officials to extend polling place hours by one hour to accommodate voters that would have been in line to vote at the regular polling place if that polling place had not been combined or relocated on Election Day. The local election official must also notify the county auditor, Secretary of State, and election judges of the extended polling place hours. The local election official must also ask the local media to announce the extended polling place hours. Voters in line to register or to vote at the end of the extended polling place hours must be allowed to vote.

Section 5 repeals a section that allows election judges to change a polling place when a designated polling place does not comply with statutory requirements. This section is replaced by sections 1 and 2.

Article 3

Absentee Voting

This article authorizes an alternative method for submitting in-person absentee ballots during the 7 days before an election.  Uniformed and overseas voters are allowed to return ballots by email or fax.  This article includes language from SF 2495.

Section 1 allows an alternative method for casting in-person absentee ballots in the seven days prior to an election. A county auditor may make ballot counters and ballot boxes available for use during this period. If offered, an in-person absentee voter that votes during the seven days prior to an election must be allowed to either follow the current procedure of in-person absentee voting or to place the ballot directly into the ballot box.  If a voter chooses to use the alternative process, the voter must provide his or her name, address, and date of birth, and sign a voter’s certificate. Then the voter is issued a ballot to complete.  Once the ballot is completed, the voter deposits the ballot into the ballot box.  The election official must immediately record that the voter has voted.  This section is effective the day after final enactment.

 
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