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S.F. No. 2381 - Election Omnibus Bill (Session Law, Chapter 161)
 
Author: Senator Katie Sieben
 
Prepared By: Alexis C. Stangl, Senate Counsel (651/296-4397)
 
Date: May 31, 2016



 

Chapter 161 is the elections omnibus bill.  The bill is organized into three articles:   Article 1, Election Administration; Article 2, School Board Vacancies; and Article 3, Election Emergency Plans.

Article 1

Election Administration

Section 1 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 2 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.

Section 3 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 4 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 5 deletes an obsolete cross-reference.

Section 6 allows the Secretary of State to change soil and water commissioner districts in limited situations after a municipal boundary change.

Section 7 deletes the height, depth, and width requirements for voting booths.

Section 8 makes a technical change to reflect a 2013 change that allows cities with fewer than 400 voters to conduct mail balloting.

Section 9 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 10 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 11 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 12 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 13 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 14 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 15 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 16 requires special elections to fill a vacancy on a school board to be held as described in Article 2.

Section 17 requires affidavits of candidacy for school board candidates to be the same as all other affidavits of candidacy.

Section 18 deletes obsolete language.

Section 19 adds a cross-reference to notice of contest procedures elsewhere in statute. This section also makes grammatical changes.

Section 20 allows the Secretary of State to designate an alternate meeting place for presidential electors if the executive chamber in the Capitol is unavailable.  The alternate location is the Minnesota History Center or another location on the Capitol complex.

Article 2

School Board Vacancies

Section 1 provides the process to fill a vacancy on a school board.  A vacancy is filled by appointment.  The appointment does not become effective for 30 days.  If a proper petition is filed with the school district clerk in the 30-day period, the appointee must not take office and a new appointment must be made.  If no petition is filed in the 30-day period, the appointee takes office until a special election is held, if required.  The special election must be on the next Election Day.  If the vacancy occurs within 90 days before Election Day, the special election is held on Election Day the following year.  No special election is required if the vacancy occurs within 90 days before Election day in the third year of the term.

This section is effective the day following final enactment and applies to vacancies existing or created on that date.  If a special election to fill a vacancy is scheduled but the absentee voting period has not started, the election may be canceled and the vacancies filled according to this section.

Section 2 repeals laws on filling vacancies that are replaced by section 1.

Article 3

Election Emergency Plans

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.

 

 
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