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S.F. No. 2458 - Election Emergency Provisions
 
Author: Senator Katie Sieben
 
Prepared By: Alexis C. Stangl, Senate Counsel (651/296-4397)
 
Date: March 14, 2016



 

S.F. No. 2458 allows local governments to respond to an elections emergency by combining polling places, relocating polling places, and keeping polls open for an additional hour. This legislation was recommended by the Elections Emergency Planning Task Force that met throughout 2015.

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 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 4 repeals Minnesota Statutes, § 204B.17. This section 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.

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