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Legislators are discussing election procedure modifications, mail balloting, ranked choice voting, and other election proposals this week.
(Published Feb 19, 2013)
One House and seven Senate election reform bills are receiving hearings this week. On Feb. 18, SF 498 was heard in the Elections Subcommittee. The bill, authored by Sen. Kent Eken (DFL-Twin Valley), modifies some election procedures.
The Minnesota Association of County Officers has worked on the language, and provided an overview of the bill. One provision of the bill will allow cities the option to require that write-in candidates for local elective offices file a formal request at least seven days before the city election if they wish to have their write-in votes counted. The League addresses this issue in SD-64 of the 2013 City Policies (pdf).
This will allow cities to eliminate time used to count frivolous write-in candidates, but the language would not mandate that all cities require the request. The bill was laid over for possible inclusion in an omnibus elections bill. There is no House companion to the bill, though it is anticipated that one will be introduced in the near future.
Mail balloting bill
Sen. Eken also had a hearing on his bill, SF 332, to allow cities with populations of registered voters up to 1,000 to conduct mail balloting. Currently, cities of up to 400 registered voters can use this method of conducting an election. It was also laid over for possible inclusion in an omnibus elections bill.
Ranked choice voting
Also on Feb. 18, SF 335, authored by Sen. Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope), was heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill allows for local jurisdictions to adopt and implement ranked choice voting. Currently, charter cities are able to do so but this would allow statutory cities, counties, and school districts to do so by passing a resolution or ordinance, or by referendum. The bill was passed out of committee and will now be heard in the Elections Subcommittee. The House companion, HF 367, is authored by Rep. Steve Simon (DFL-St. Louis Park) and has not had a hearing yet.
Notifying felons of voting rights
On Feb. 19, SF 164, authored by Sen. Bobby Joe Champion (DFL-Minneapolis), will be heard in the Judiciary Committee. The bill strengthens requirements for notifying felons of their voting rights and revocation. The House companion, HF 637, was introduced on Feb. 18, and the chief author is Rep. Laurie Halverson (DFL-Eagan).
Vacancies in nomination for partisan office
In the House on Feb. 19, HF 591, authored by Rep. Tim Sanders (R-Blaine), will be heard in the Elections Committee. The bill modifies procedures related to vacancies in nomination for partisan office. The Senate companion, SF 540, was introduced on Feb. 18, and is authored by Sen. Rest. It will be heard in the Senate Elections Subcommittee on Feb. 20.
Absentee ballot procedures
Also on Feb. 20, SF 564, which modifies absentee balloting procedures, will be heard in the Senate Elections Subcommittee. It is authored by Sen. Katie Sieben (DFL-Newport) and currently there is no House companion.
Sen Sieben’s bill establishing early voting, SF 535, will be heard on Feb. 20 as well. The House companion, HF 334, is authored by Rep. Connie Bernardy (DFL-Fridley) and has not had a hearing yet. The League has a policy (SD-62) supporting the adoption and implementation of early voting.
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Contact Ann Lindstrom
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