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S.F. No. 2571 - Returning UOCAVA Absentee Ballots by Email or Fax (As Amended by the A-3 Amendment)
 
Author: Senator Jim Carlson
 
Prepared By: Alexis C. Stangl, Senate Counsel (651/296-4397)
 
Date: March 18, 2016



 

S.F. No. 2571 allows uniformed and overseas citizens voters (often called UOCAVA voters) to return their absentee ballots by email or fax. This bill only applies to uniformed and overseas citizens that use the absentee voting procedures in Minnesota Statutes, §§ 203B.16-203B.27.

Section 1 requires the certificate on the back of an absentee ballot return envelope to include a statement that the voter voluntarily waives his or her right to a secret ballot if the ballot is returned by email or fax.

Section 2 requires the county auditor to include the ballot identification number in the text of the email when a ballot is sent to the voter by email.

Section 3 allows a uniformed or overseas absentee voter to return an absentee ballot by mail or delivery service, by email, or by fax.

Section 4, subdivision 1, requires a voter that returns a ballot by email or fax to comply with the requirements of this section. The voter must return the ballot to the email address or fax number designated by the county auditor.  If the voter returns the ballot by email, the voter must include the ballot identification number on the certificate.  Absentee ballots returned by email or fax are treated in the same manner as other absentee ballots unless otherwise provided. The county auditor is required to regularly monitor the designated email address and fax number.

Subdivision 2 states that in order to be counted, an absentee ballot that is returned by email or fax must be received by the county auditor no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day. The voter assumes the risk that a faulty transmission may occur.

Subdivision 3 requires limited access to absentee ballots returned by email or fax before the ballots are placed in an absentee ballot envelope.  Election officials who do view the ballots before they are placed in secrecy envelopes have the duty to protect the secrecy of the ballot. Failure to comply with this section does not invalidate a ballot.

Subdivision 4 prohibits a ballot returned by email from being accepted unless the required identification number matches on the certificate and the voter's application or record and the voter has included on the certificate the ballot identification number that matches the number assigned by the statewide voter registration system.

Subdivision 5 requires the county auditor to note on a certificate of voter eligibility the date and time the ballot was received and whether it was by email or fax.  The county auditor must remove any portion of the ballot that identifies the voter and then place the ballot into a secrecy envelope. The secrecy envelope is then sealed in a signature envelope. The county auditor must attach the certificate of voter eligibility to the signature envelope.  Then the envelope is placed with other absentee ballots. If the same voter submits multiple ballots, only one ballot must be accepted.  If multiple ballots are returned by email or fax, the first ballot received is accepted and the rest are rejected.  If a voter also returns a ballot by mail or package delivery service, the paper ballot is accepted and all others are rejected.  Ballots returned by email or fax cannot be opened or processed before 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Section 5 requires the Secretary of State to include in its postelection report to the legislature the number ballots returned by email or fax.

Section 6 provides that the act is effective June 15, 2016.

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