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Minnesota Legislature

House OKs technical elections bill

Rep. Raymond Dehn, chair of the House Subcommittee on Elections, describes provisions of the omnibus elections policy bill during floor debate May 2. Photo by Paul Battaglia

A package of technical updates to state laws governing elections passed the House on Thursday, including a proposed standard for when an automatic recount of a constitutional amendment ballot question would kick in.

HF1487, sponsored by Rep. Raymond Dehn (DFL-Mpls) and passed 121-6, would make dozens of wording and technical changes. Among them are more substantial measures that would:

  • establish a standard for initiation of an automatic recount of a proposed constitutional amendment if the number of “yes” votes is within one-quarter of 1 percent of all other ballots in the election;
  • modify the time period when a candidate may request a publicly funded recount to state that a recount request may not be filed before the canvass of the election results is complete;
  • provide that an absentee ballot must be spoiled and returned to a voter if it contains more than one ballot that has been marked with votes; under current law, an envelope must be returned to a voter if it includes more than one ballot, marked or not;
  • authorize cities to require write-in candidates for city offices to request that their votes be counted, similar to the process required of candidates for county, state and federal offices;
  • change the standard for when local governments must adopt an ordinance or resolution designating a polling place for each precinct by requiring local officials to adopt an ordinance only if a polling place has changed;
  • require the inclusion of a space for write-in votes on ballots for special elections; and
  • explicitly require the State Canvassing Board to declare the election of candidates for state and county office after the canvass is complete.

The bill now heads to the Senate, where Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake) is the sponsor.

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