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S.F. No. 455 - Omnibus Election Bill (As Enacted)
 
Author: Senator Katie Sieben
 
Prepared By: Alexis C. Stangl, Senate Counsel (651/296-4397)
 
Date: May 27, 2015



 

S.F. No. 455, the elections omnibus bill, was signed by the Governor on May 22, 2015, and became session law, chapter 70.  Article 1 includes various election administration provisions.  Article 2 is the Uniform Faithful Presidential Electors Act.  

ARTICLE 1.  ELECTION ADMINISTRATION.

This article makes various changes to election administration provisions and deletes or repeals obsolete provisions.

Section 1 ensures that when a school board changes from seven members to six members, three members are elected at each election (instead of two members at one election and four the next).

Section 2 adds a cross reference to the new statutory section created in section 3.

Section 3 requires a school board to hold a special election to fill a vacancy if more than one year remains in the unexpired term.  An appointment may be made to fill a vacancy if less than one year remains on the term.  A public hearing must be held before the appointment is made.  

Sections 4 and 5 specify that the signatures collected on a party petition must be collected within one year of the petition being filed.

Sections 6 and 7 provide a general definition for election law of “partisan offices” and “nonpartisan offices.”

Section 8 deletes the requirement that paper voter registration applications be on paper that may be mailed.

Section 9 deletes obsolete language that required actions of the Secretary of State between 2010 and 2012.  Each month, the Secretary of State must prepare a list of voters who are not citizens.

Section 10 modifies standards related to initiating a prosecution when there is probable cause to believe that a voter registration crime has occurred.  A county attorney must proceed according to the generally applicable standards regarding the functions and duties of a county attorney.  This section also eliminates existing language that requires a county attorney to forfeit office if a violation of the law is not prosecuted.  A willful violation of the voter registration laws by a public employee is just cause for suspension without pay or dismissal.

Section 11 deletes an obsolete cross-reference in federal law and replaces it with the current cross-reference.  A cross-reference is added to state law that defines “military forces.”  By adding this cross-reference, National Guard members are allowed to use the UOCAVA procedures for voting.

Section 12 requires the county auditor or municipal clerk, upon request, provide an audio file of absentee ballot instructions. The Secretary of State must prepare the audio file of the instructions. The term “audio file” replaces the outdated term “cassette tape.”

Section 13 allows an individual to return his or her own absentee ballot on Election Day.  Prior to no-excuse absentee voting, a voter was required to use an agent to return an absentee ballot on Election Day.

Section 14 deletes a reference to the requirement of using an agent to return an absentee ballot on Election Day to be consistent with change made in section 13.  Specified that 8 p.m. is the deadline to receive ballots by mail or package delivery on Election Day.

Section 15 allows the absentee ballot board members to match a driver’s license number, state identification number, or the last four digits of a Social Security number to either the voter’s absentee ballot or voter record; under current law, the ballot board may only compare the number to the ballot application.

Section 16 deletes an obsolete cross-reference in federal law and replaces it with the current cross-reference.

Section 17 provides that children who have not resided in the U.S. may vote in Minnesota if their parent maintained residence in Minnesota for at least 20 days immediately prior to leaving the U.S. and if they meet all other voter eligibility requirements.

Section 18 deletes the provision that states that a Social Security number qualifies as a person’s military identification number; this language is no longer needed because military members are not required to use a Social Security number on an absentee ballot application. A conforming change is made to be consistent with section 17.

Section 19 makes a conforming change to be consistent with section 17.

Section 20 allows a candidate to request that his or her address be classified as private data if the address is classified as private pursuant to another state law.

Section 21 provides that a vacancy in nomination for a partisan office does not exist if a candidate withdraws during the statutory withdrawal period.  This means that, upon withdrawal, the candidate would not be replaced on the ballot with another candidate chosen by the party.  This section also provides that a vacancy in nomination does exist if a candidate is determined to be ineligible to hold the office pursuant to a court ruling.  This process is established in section 31.

Section 22 and 23 update cross references to reflect the change made in section 21.

Section 24 provides that a vacancy in nomination for a nonpartisan office exists if a candidate is determined to be ineligible to hold the office pursuant to a court ruling.  This process is established in section 31.

Section 25 provides that an individual that lives with a candidate cannot serve as an election judge in the election where the candidate appears on the ballot.

Section 26 allows a high school student to be a trainee election judge in a county adjacent to the county where the student lives.  Students were already allowed to be election judges in the county where the student lives.

Section 27 deletes the requirement that the names of candidates on a ballot must be printed in all capital letters.

Sections 28 and 29 delete obsolete language relating to marking an X in a square on a ballot and replaces it with references to filling ovals or other similar target shapes.

Section 30 removes a requirement that titles on a ballot be in all capital letters.

Section 31 permits an errors and omissions judicial proceeding if a candidate has filed for an office and the candidate is not eligible to hold that office.  If the complaint is successful, the candidate could be replaced on the ballot with another candidate using the existing procedures for filling a vacancy in nomination.

Section 32 allows the county auditor or municipal clerk to open mail ballots on the seventh day before the election, instead of the fourth day before the election. This makes the opening of mail ballots the same as absentee ballots.

Sections 33 and 34 specify that a voter is allowed to take time off from work to vote in any regularly scheduled election and in elections to fill vacancies in nomination for constitutional officers.

Section 35 deletes an obsolete reference to folding ballots.

Section 36 deletes obsolete language relating to marking an X in a square on a ballot and replaces it with references to filling ovals or other similar target shapes. Clarifies that only the partisan section of a primary ballot must not be counted if there are votes for more than one political party.

Section 37 deletes obsolete language relating to handing ballots to judges who place the ballots in the ballot box.

Sections 38, 39, 40, and 41 delete obsolete language relating to marking an X in a square on a ballot and replaces it with references to filling ovals or other similar target shapes.

Section 42 specifies that the deadline to request a publicly funded recount in a state election is 5 p.m. on the second day after the canvass of the election.  This replaces the previous 48-hour deadline.

Section 43 states that a discretionary recount of a state or federal primary election must not delay the notice of nomination to the winning candidate. The results of the recount must be certified by the canvassing board as soon as possible.

Section 44 specifies that the deadline for a publicly funded recount in a local election must be filed by 5 p.m. on the fifth day after the canvass of a primary or by 5 p.m. on the seventh day after the canvass of a general election.

Section 45 states that a discretionary recount of a local primary election must not delay the notice of nomination to the winning candidate. The results of the recount must be certified by the canvassing board as soon as possible.

Section 46 deletes the prohibition on issuing an election certificate until the courts have determined the outcome of an election contest. The exception for legislative offices is removed.

Section 47 deletes an obsolete cross-reference in federal law and replaces it with the current cross-reference.

Section 48 specifies that a certificate of election in a special election for a legislator is issued to the chief clerk of the house or secretary of the senate, instead of to the individual.

Section 49 allows cities to adopt a filing fee other than the default fee.  A cap is placed on the fee that may be imposed.  Charter cities that set filing fees by authority of their charter are exempt from the fee cap.

Section 50 prohibits a school special election on the date of an annual town meeting in March.

Section 51 remove the requirements that voter instructions on a primary ballot be in all capital letters.

Sections 52, 53, and 54 delete references to other questions voted on statewide because only constitutional amendments are voted on statewide.  Section 53 also deletes a reference to questions voted on in more than one county.

Sections 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, and 60 delete obsolete language relating to marking an X in a square on a ballot and replaces it with references to filling ovals or other similar target shapes. Also, section 58 removes the obsolete requirement that a ballot question be placed on a separate ballot.

Section 61 establishes the Elections Emergency Planning Task Force.  This section has an immediate effective date. Subdivision 1 provides for the task force to have 14 members representing various perspectives. Vacancies are filled by the entity making the original appointment.  Members must be appointed by July 1, 2015.

Subdivision 2 sets forth the duties of the task force relating to various aspects of emergency planning for elections.

Subdivision 3 requires the Secretary of State to convene the first meeting by August 1, 2015. Members of the task force elect a chair and vice-chair from among the members.

Subdivision 4 provides that public members of the task force are compensated in the same manner as public members on other task forces.

Subdivision 5 requires the Legislative Coordinating Commission (LCC) to provide staff to assist the task force.

Subdivision 6 requires the task force to submit a report by January 1, 2016 to the legislature. The report should summarize the findings of the task force and list the recommendations for developing a statewide elections emergency plan.

Subdivision 7 provides that the task force expires the day after it submits its report or January 1, 2016, whichever is earlier.

Section 62 appropriates $22,000 to the Legislative Coordinating Commission for the purposes of the Elections Emergency Planning Task Force established in section 61.

Section 63 repeals Minnesota Statutes, sections 123B.09, subdivision 5, (school board vacancies); 204B.14, subdivision 6 (requiring precinct boundaries to follow physical boundaries); 204C.13, subdivision 4 (requiring voters to fold ballots); 204C.30, subdivision 1 (requiring the county auditor to deliver a set of summary statements to the Secretary of State); and 383A.555 (providing details for an election held in 1990 in Ramsey County).

ARTICLE 2.  UNIFORM FAITHFUL PRESIDENTIAL ELECTORS ACT.

This article adopts the Uniform Faithful Presidential Electors Act.  The Act requires a presidential elector to vote for the candidates for president and vice-president to whom the elector is pledged.  If the elector does not vote in this manner, a process is provided to refuse the ballot and replace the elector.  

Sections 1, 2, and 3 make conforming changes by adding references to alternate presidential electors.

Section 4 deletes provisions relating to selecting alternate electors.  Selecting alternative electors is addressed in section 7.  The electors are required to meet at noon on the designated day and perform the required duties.

Section 5 provides the short title for this act, which is the “Uniform Faithful Presidential Electors Act.”

Section 6 provides definitions.

Section 7 requires a political party or presidential candidate to submit the names of two individuals for each elector position.  One individual must be designated “elector nominee” and the other as “alternate elector nominee.”  The electors for Minnesota are the winning elector nominees.

Section 8 specifies the pledge that each elector nominee and alternate elector nominee must take.  The pledge states that the elector nominee or alternate elector nominee will support the candidate of the party, or unaffiliated candidate, that made the nomination.  The executed pledge must be submitted, with the corresponding names, to the Secretary of State.

Section 9 requires the Governor to include in the certificate of ascertainment that electors will serve unless a vacancy occurs; that if a vacancy occurs, the vacancy will be filled; and that the Governor will file an amended certificate if a vacancy is filled.  A certificate of ascertainment is required by federal law as part of the Electoral College voting process. (A certificate of ascertainment lists the names of the electors, and substitute electors, nominated to the Electoral College and the vote totals received by each at the general election.) 

Section 10 requires the Secretary of State to preside at the meeting of the state’s electors held to cast ballots for president and vice-president.  A process is provided to appoint an individual as a substitute elector, if necessary.

Section 11 requires the Secretary of State to provide each elector with a presidential and a vice-presidential ballot.  The elector must mark the ballots and then sign and print his or her name on each.  Each elector must present the completed ballots to the Secretary of State, who must examine and accept the ballots.  The Secretary of State must not accept or count a ballot if the elector has not marked both ballots or has marked a ballot in violation of his or her pledge.  A vacancy is created if an elector that refuses to present a ballot, presents an unmarked ballot, or presents a ballot marked in violation of the elector’s pledge.  The process is repeated with a substitute elector. 

Section 12 requires the Secretary of State to prepare an amended certificate of ascertainment and transmit it for the Governor’s signature if any of the electors are different from those listed in the original certificate.  The Governor must sign the amended certificate and return it to the Secretary of State.  The Secretary of State must prepare a certificate of vote and the electors must sign the certificate.  The Secretary of State must then process and transmit the signed certificate with the amended certificate.

Section 13 requires consideration to be given to uniformity of interpretation when applying these statutes with respect to the application and interpretation of the statutes in other states that have adopted this uniform law.

Section 14 makes a conforming change by adding a reference to alternate presidential electors.

Section 15 repeals Minnesota Statutes, sections 208.07 (certificate of electors) and 208.08 (elector meeting).  Both statutes are redundant or superseded by provisions in the bill.

 

 
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