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Election Law @ Moritz

Election Law @ Moritz


2008 Key Questions for Key States

Minnesota

The complete research by Election Law @ Moritz for Minnesota can be found below.

Institutional Arrangements

State Chief Election Authorities

Elected individual (D)

Chief election authority: Secretary of State. M.S.A. § 204B.27.

Method of selection: Elected. Const. Art. 5, § 1.

Current officer: Mark Ritchie (D). Community, political leaders look back on Wellstone legacy, Grand Forks Herald, October 21, 2007. (Last updated 1/1/08)

State High Court Composition

Unknown affiliation/elected

Method of selection: Elected.  Const. Art. 6, § 7.

Justices: Eric Magnuson (appointed by R), Alan C. Page (D), Paul H. Anderson (appointed by R), Helen M. Meyer (appointed by I), Christopher Dietzen (appointed by R), G. Barry Anderson (appointed by R), Lori Skjerven Gildea (appointed by R) (Last updated 11/5/08)

Sources:

  • Pawlenty names 3 to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, AP Alert - Minnesota, June 24, 2008.
  • Minnesota Supreme Court:  A New Chief, St. Paul Pioneer Press, December 18, 2008.
  • Minnesota Supreme Court: Chief has local roots, Former Crookston judge Anderson named chief justices, Grand Forks Herald (ND), December 16, 2005.
  • Minnesota Senate Race Taking Shape, Roll Call, February 16, 2005.  

Local Administrator Training

Annual training/mandatory

The secretary of state adopts rules establishing programs for the training of county auditors and other local election officials. MSA 204B.25. Local election officials must complete training in order to administer an election.

The secretary of state must develop a training program in election administration for county auditors and provide certification to each auditor who completes the training program. MSA 204B.27. County auditors must complete an initial fifteen hours of training, then two hours of training each calendar year. MR 8240.2900. The training should include information on the voter registration system, candidate filings, campaign practices, campaign finance practices, the election calendar, ballot preparation, election judge recruitment and duties, mail elections, absentee voting, the election-night reporting system, post-election duties, and the duties performed by municipal clerks. A county auditor who has taken office less than two months before an election shall complete an “emergency election administration training” program provided by the Secretary of State. County auditors must also attend an election conference given by the Secretary of State once “every election cycle.” MR 8240.1050. To facilitate poll worker training, county auditors must also attend special training classes to learn educational principles that apply to adults. MR 8240.1100.

Every two years the county auditor conducts training sessions for municipal and school district clerks. MSA 204B.25. Municipal clerks responsible for election administration must receive an initial five hours of training, then four hours of training for each “election cycle.” MR 8240.2700. The training will include information on candidate filings, campaign practices, campaign finance requirements, the election calendar, ballot preparation, election judge recruitment and duties, notice requirements, voting systems, mail elections, absentee voting and post-election duties. A municipal clerk who has taken office less than six months before an election may administer the election after completing only two hours of emergency training.

Who tallies precinct results?

County canvassing board - partisanship unconstrained

The county canvassing board totals precinct results for the county.  MSA 204C.33.  The board consists of the county auditor, the court administrator for the district court, the major or chair of the town board, and two members of the county board selected by its members. MSA 204C.31.

Who counts provisional ballots?

N/A

Minnesota does not have provisional voting. It has election day registration instead.

Who performs state canvass?

Special canvassing commission - mixed/partisanship unconstrained

The state canvassing board canvasses the county returns. MSA 204C.33.  The state canvassing board consists of the Secretary of State, two judges of the supreme court, and two judges of the district court selected by the secretary of state. MSA 204C.31.

Local Administrator

County official - elected or appointed

Minnesota county auditors manage elections at the local level. State law states that county auditors are elected, but that can be varied by local charter. MSA 382.01, 375A.10.

Local Administrators' Party Affiliation

Unknown affiliation/appointed

County Population Administrator/Affiliation Selection Voting technology
Hennepin 1,122,093 Jill Alverson (?) Appointed PCOS - ES&S Model 100
Ramsey 493,215 Mark Oswald (?) Appointed PCOS – Diebold Accuvote
Dakota 388,001 Joel Beckman (?) Appointed PCOS – Diebold Accuvote
Anoka 327,005 Maureen Devine (?) Appointed PCOS – Diebold Accuvote
Washington 225,000 Kevin Corbid (?) Appointed PCOS – Diebold Accuvote
St. Louis 196,067 Don Dicklich (?) Elected PCOS - ES&S Model 100, and Optech IIIP Eagle
Stearns 144,096 Randy Schreifels (?) Elected PCOS - ES&S Model 100
Olmsted 137,521 Pam Fuller (?) Appointed PCOS - ES&S Model 100
Scott 124,092 Cindy Geis (?) Appointed PCOS - ES&S Model 100
Wright 114,787 Bob Hiivala (?) Elected PCOS - ES&S Model 100
Total 3,230,220 (63% of total pop.)

Voter Registration

Registration Deadline

EDR

Traditional registration applications must be received by 5 p.m. on the 21st day before the election to be considered timely (this includes mail-in applications as well). MSA 201.054, 201.061.

Notice of Registration Error

Yes

The county auditor shall notify voters when registration applications are rejected. MN ADC 8200.2900, 8200.3100.

Opportunity to Correct after Registration Deadline

Yes

Properly completed applications submitted after the registration deadline will be processed, but will not allow the voter to vote in the upcoming election. However, the voter can still vote by registering on election day. Voters who submit completed applications after the registration deadline will receive a notice that their applications were late and that they must register on election day to vote in the upcoming election. MN ADC 8200.3110.

HAVA matching standards

Substantial match standard

Unlike most states, Minnesota has detailed administrative rules governing its matching process. M.R. 8200.9310. Matching is a two-step process. In the first step, the Secretary of State attempts to obtain an exact match of the applicant's driver's license or state ID number (or social security number, if the DL# is not provided). If the SoS obtains an exact match, the application is considered verified. If the SoS does not obtain an exact match, the local election administrator will review the information and mark it as verified if he or she can "reasonably conclude" that the information in the application and the information in the relevant state database "relate to the same person." If the administrator cannot reach that conclusion based on the file alone, he or she must contact the applicant via mail, telephone or email to obtain further information.

Will the inability to verify social security number or driver's license number prevent registration?

Voter may cast an ordinary ballot after showing ID at polls

Officials will not register the individual unless the applicant provides the verifiable information at least 21 days before election day or at the polls. MSA 201.121; MN ADC 8200.3100.  It is unclear from the statutes and regulations what information exactly would be sufficient at the polls.  However, representatives of the Secretary of State stated that any of the forms of ID that may be used for election day registration (including having another voter "vouch" for one's identity) would allow an otherwise unmatched voter to cast a regular ballot at the polls.

Challenges

Pre-election challenges

Challenges decided by local election official

Upon petition filed with the county auditor, any registered voter within a county may challenge the eligibility or right to vote of any other voter in that county. MSA 201.195. The form of the petition is visually laid out in MR 8200.9950. The petition shall state the grounds for the challenge and must be accompanied by an affidavit stating that the challenge is based upon the challenger's personal knowledge. Within five days after the filing of the petition, the county auditor will set a challenge hearing date and notify the challenger by mail. A copy of the challenge petition and a notice of hearing shall be served on the challenged voter. The hearing shall be held by the county auditor or party designated by the auditor, "who shall then make findings and affirm or dismiss the challenge." MSA 201.195. If the challenge is affirmed, the voter's recourse is to appeal the ruling to the Secretary of State. That appeal must be heard within 5 days of the county level ruling. The Secretary of State will affirm or reverse and will instruct the county auditor what status to give to the voter. MSA 201.195.

Election day challenges

Successfully challeged voter may not cast a ballot of any kind

An election day challenge is brought by filling out a form supplied by the Secretary of State. MSA 204C.12. The form requires the challenger to list the basis for the challenge, the challenger's personal knowledge, and identification information for the challenger. After completion of the form, an election judge will administer an oath to the challenged individual and "asků sufficient questions to test that individual's residence and right to vote." MSA 204C.12. If a challenged voter does not satisfactorily answer the election judge's questions demonstrating that he or she is eligible to vote or resides at the address where he or she is registered to vote, the challenged voter will not be allowed to cast a ballot. Additionally, the challenged voter will not be allowed to vote if he or she refuses to answer the election judge's questions or sign the polling place roster. MSA 204C.12.

Provisional Ballots

Provisional ballot - name not in poll book

N/A

Minnesota does not have provisional balloting.

Provisional ballot - voter cast ballot in wrong precinct

N/A

Minnesota does not have provisional balloting.

Provisional Ballot Casting Rate - 2006

N/A - this state does not use provisional ballots

Minnesota does not have provisional ballots.

Provisional Ballot Counting Rate - 2006

N/A - this state does not have provisional ballots

Early and Absentee Voting

Convenience Voting

Neither early voting nor "no excuse" absentee voting

Minnesota does not have early voting.

Voters may cast an absentee ballot only if they have an excuse.  MSA 203B.02.  Ballot applications will be accepted any time until and including the day before the election.  MSA 203B.04.  To count, completed ballots must be returned by 5 p.m. the day before the election.  MR 8210.2200.

Voting Technology

Voting Technology

Predominately or 100% OS

County Population Administrator/Affiliation Selection Voting technology
Hennepin 1,122,093 Jill Alverson (?) Appointed PCOS - ES&S Model 100
Ramsey 493,215 Mark Oswald (?) Appointed PCOS – Diebold Accuvote
Dakota 388,001 Joel Beckman (?) Appointed PCOS – Diebold Accuvote
Anoka 327,005 Maureen Devine (?) Appointed PCOS – Diebold Accuvote
Washington 225,000 Kevin Corbid (?) Appointed PCOS – Diebold Accuvote
St. Louis 196,067 Don Dicklich (?) Elected PCOS - ES&S Model 100, and Optech IIIP Eagle
Stearns 144,096 Randy Schreifels (?) Elected PCOS - ES&S Model 100
Olmsted 137,521 Pam Fuller (?) Appointed PCOS - ES&S Model 100
Scott 124,092 Cindy Geis (?) Appointed PCOS - ES&S Model 100
Wright 114,787 Bob Hiivala (?) Elected PCOS - ES&S Model 100
Total 3,230,220 (63% of total pop.)

Does state law require a VVPAT?

Yes

Minnesota requires that electronic voting systems include VVPAT. MSA 206.80

Polling Place Operations

Who are poll workers?

Appointed by local administrator/some minority party representation

Municipal clerks appoint poll workers, except for in precincts that are not part of any municipality. MSA 204B.21. In the latter case, the county board appoints the poll workers. No more than half of the poll workers may be of the same political party. MSA 204B.19. The only exception is if there is an odd number of poll workers, in which case no political party may have a number of poll workers greater than half the total poll workers plus one.

Municipal clerks are not the chief local election authorities. Rather, that responsibility typically belongs to county auditors.

 

Poll worker training

Every two years

Poll workers must complete a training course and “demonstrate proficiency through completion of self-administered worksheets, hands-on demonstrations, or other methods approved by the secretary of state” (but graded tests are not allowed). M.S. 204B.25, M.R. 8240.0300, M.R. 8240.1300. The training course must occur not more than sixty days before the primary election and not fewer than three days before the general election. M.R. 8240.1300. To remain qualified, the person must repeat the training every twenty-four months. The course must be at least two hours in length and must familiarize trainees with specimens of the actual forms, ballots and voting machines used in the jurisdiction. M.R. 8240.1600. The administrative code contains detailed requirements of what the training course is to cover. M.R. 8240.1600. Judges appointed after the time for training has ended must attend emergency training before performing their duties. M.S. 204B.25; M.R. 8240.1500. The Secretary of State's office has training materials on its website to complement those used by local officials (see here). The 2008 Election Judge Guide can be found here.

Polling hours extension

Unclear

Regular voting hours in state elections "shall begin at 7:00 a.m. and shall extend continuously until 8:00 p.m." M.S.A. § 204C.05.

Minnesota statutes allow the Secretary of State to adopt and implement alternative election procedures that are ordered by a court. MSA 204B.47. However, the law does not provide any specifics, and does not say either way whether the courts are permitted to extend polling hours. The fact that the law authorizes the Secretary to adopt alternative election procedures explicitly only when they are ordered by a court suggests that the Secretary cannot order alternative procedures unilaterally.

If the governor declares an emergency that makes it difficult for voters to go to the polling place on election day, voters in affected precincts may vote by absentee ballot. MSA 203B.02.

Voters that are at the polls at closing time shall be allowed to vote. M.S.A. § 204C.05.

Polling place closing times - local times

8:00 PM local time

Polling place closing times - by Eastern time zone

9:00 PM Eastern time

Ballot Security

Voter ID requirements

Only HAVA ID required

Minnesota requires only the minimum ID required by HAVA. This requirement applies only to voters who are voting in a Minnesota federal election for the first time, who registered to vote by mail, who did not produce ID at the point of registration, and whose identities were not verified in the statewide voter registration database by comparing the information against information contained in social security or state motor vehicles databases. MSA 201.061.

Consequences of failure to present ID

Voter may attempt to cast a regular ballot using EDR

If a voter who is required to present ID does not, then the voter may attempt to use election day registration to cast a regular ballot. However, the EDR procedure itself has an ID requirement that may be difficult to meet if the voter cannot even produce the standard HAVA ID that is the only form of ID required in Minnesota.

For election day registration, any of the following forms of ID are acceptable:

For voters with ID stating current address: 1. A valid driver's license with current address; 2. a valid learner's permit with current address; 3. a receipt for a valid driver's license or valid learner's permit with current address; 4. a valid state ID card with current address; 5. a receipt for a valid state ID card with current address. M.R. 8200.5100.

For students: 1. A current student ID with current address; 2. a current student fee statement with current address; a copy of a current student registration card with current address. M.R. 8200.5100.

For others: 1. A tribal ID card with name, address, signature and photograph; 2. having a valid registration in the same precinct under a different address; 3. a notice of late registration mailed by the county auditor or municipal clerk under M.R. 8200.3110; 4. having a registered voter in the precinct sign an oath attached to the voter registration application. M.R. 8200.5100. The oath states that the person making the oath knows the applicant and knows he or she lives in the precinct. M.S. 201.061.

Follow-up required of voter

N/A

Minnesota does not have a provisional balloting program.  Voters cast only ordinary ballots that are counted on election day itself.  Therefore, no follow-up is necessary or permitted.

Emergency Preparedness

Natural Disasters or Emergencies

Election-specific emergency provision

Minnesota statutes allow the Secretary of State to adopt and implement alternative election procedures that are ordered by a court.  MSA 204B.47.  However, Minnesota law does not go into specifics in this area, but leaves the details up to the courts.  

If the governor declares an emergency that makes it difficult for voters to go to the polling place on election day, voters in affected precincts may vote by absentee ballot.  MSA 203B.02.

The governor also has special powers, including some rulemaking authority, that apply in case of emergency, but the rules governing those powers do not address the subject of elections.  MSA 12.21.

Ballot Shortages

Poll workers may create makeshift ballots

With the permission of local election officials, in the event of a ballot shortage poll workers may create unofficial ballots from whatever materials they have on hand. MSA 204B.30. The ballots shall conform as nearly as possible to the design of official ballots.

What if touchscreens break down?

N/A

Minnesota does not use touchscreen voting machines.

Post-Election Processes

State certification deadline

About 17 days after election

The State Canvassing Board meets at the Secretary of State’s office on the second Tuesday following the election to canvass reports submitted by the county auditors.  MSA 204C.33. All members must certify the report and the board must declare the result within 3 days after completing the canvass.

Election contest deadline

Unclear whether contest could be permitted under state law

Minnesota explicitly authorizes election contests for many types of offices, but President is not among them. MSA 209.02. This suggests that presidential election contests are not allowed. See In re Youngdale, 232 Minn. 134, 139 (Minn., 1950).

If presidential contests were permitted, the following guidelines would likely apply: An election contest must be filed within seven days after the canvass is completed (five days in the case of a primary). MSA 209.021. However, there are two exceptions. First, “if a contest is based upon a deliberate, serious, and material violation of the election laws which was discovered from the statements of receipts and disbursements required to be filed by the candidates and committees,” the complaint need not be filed until ten days after certification (five days for a primary). Second, where a recount petition is filed, the clock for filing an election contest does not begin to run until the results of the recount have been certified by the appropriate body. MSA 204C.35; 204C.36.

Local count deadline

Upon completion of canvass

The county canvassing board will meet at the county auditor’s office on or before the 7th day following the election and promptly canvass returns. MSA 204C.33. The county auditor will submit a certified copy of the report stating the number of votes cast for federal and state offices to the secretary of state immediately upon completion of the county canvass.

Audit type

Manual

Audits are performed by manually reviewing ballots.  MSA 206.9.

The county canvassing board selects precincts by lot at a public meeting according to the number of registered voters in the county. MSA 206.9. If the county has fewer than 50,000 registered voters, 2 precincts must be selected. If the county has between 50,000 and 100,000 registered voter, 3 precincts must be selected. In counties with more than 100,000 registered voters, officials must audit 4 precincts or 3% of precincts, whichever is greater. At least one precinct in each county must have had more than 150 votes cast; otherwise the audit requirement is waived. Only votes for president, governor, and the US Senate and House must be audited.

Minnesota uses paper ballots exclusively, so auditing touchscreens is not an issue.

Audit scope

Depends

The county canvassing board selects precincts by lot at a public meeting according to the number of registered voters in the county. MSA 206.9. If the county has fewer than 50,000 registered voters, 2 precincts must be selected. If the county has between 50,000 and 100,000 registered voter, 3 precincts must be selected. In counties with more than 100,000 registered voters, officials must audit 4 precincts or 3% of precincts, whichever is greater. At least one precinct in each county must have had more than 150 votes cast; otherwise the audit requirement is waived. Only votes for president, governor, and the US Senate and House must be audited.

Candidate-requested recounts

Upon request

In federal, state, and judicial races, any candidate may obtain a recount at the candidate’s own expense by filing a recount petition, regardless of how close the margin of victory was. MSA 204C.35. The deadline for filing the petition is generally within seven days after the canvass is completed (five days in the case of a primary). MSA 204C.35; 209.021.

Administrative Recounts

By court order only

If the county canvassing board by majority vote determines poll workers have made an obvious error in tabulating the votes, the board shall notify the affected candidates. MSA 204C.39. The candidates then may petition the county trial court for an order giving the county canvassing board the power to recount the votes.

Automatic Recounts

Triggered at 0.5%

Automatic recounts occur when the margin of victory either 1) is less than one-half percent of the total votes cast for the office or 2) is ten votes or less and the total number of votes cast is 400 or less. MSA 204C.35. Automatic recounts are available only for statewide federal offices, state constitutional offices, statewide judicial offices, congressional offices, state legislative offices, and district judicial offices.

Defintion of a vote

Concrete standard

Minnesota law allows votes to be counted if the intent of the voter can be determined. MSA 204C.13. This definition provides sufficient guidance by the inclusion of examples to assist in the determination of a voter’s intent.

Election Contest Scenario #1: Unverified Ballots

Random withdrawal

Where individuals vote without signing in, there will be more ballots cast than the number of names in the poll book. Where there is such an excess, the ballots will be drawn out of the box randomly until there is no longer an excess. M.S.A. 204C.20; 206.86. The withdrawn ballots are not counted, but preserved. Id.

However, before officials randomly remove any ballots, they first remove any ballots that have not been properly marked with the initials of the election judges. M.S.A. 204C.20; Johnson v. Tanka, 154 N.W.2d 185, 188 (1967). If there is no longer any excess, the judges do not proceed to the random removal.

These procedures are mandatory and, where officials fail to follow them, a court in an election contest will order them to be followed and adjust the vote totals accordingly. Johnson at 188.  

Election Contest Scenario #2: Provisional Ballots with Technical Mistakes

Provisional ballots not used

Minnesota does not use provisional ballots. Minnesota uses Election Day Registration instead. § 201.061. 

What Court Would Hear a Presidential Contest?

Unclear whether contest permitted

Minnesota explicitly authorizes election contests for many types of offices, but President is not among them. M.S.A. § 209.02. This suggests that Presidential election contests are not allowed. See In re Youngdale, 232 Minn. 134, 139 (Minn., 1950).  

Who Performs Presidential recounts?

Unconstrained

The State Canvassing Board conducts recounts in Presidential elections. MSA 204C.33; 204C.35. The State Canvassing Board is the Secretary of State, two judges of the Supreme Court, and two judges of the district court selected by the Secretary of State. MSA 204C.31. There is no explicit constraint on “stacking” the Board with partisan appointees. Although state statutes make the State Canvassing Board responsible for the recount, administrative regulations prescribe exercise of most of the Board’s duties to the Secretary of State or the Secretary’s designee. MN ADC 8235.0200 et seq. The Secretary of State is elected. MSA Const. Art 5, s 1. All Minnesota judges are elected. MSA Const. Art. 6, s 7. Recounts are open to the public. MN ADC 8235.0300.