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HF894 passed as amended and was re-referred to the Government Operations committee.
(Published Mar 15, 2013)
On Thursday, the House Elections committee passed, as amended, the Elections omnibus bill. It will now be heard in the Government Operations committee. Here are highlights from the articles of the bill.
Article 1 includes provisions for no-excuse absentee voting.
Article 2 includes changes to publicly funded recounts. The bill reduces the number of votes cast to trigger a publicly funded recount for a federal, state constitutional or judicial office and requires that the apparent losing candidate request the recount. Current law requires an automatic full recount when the vote difference is less than 0.5 percent; the bill reduces it to one quarter of one percent. The threshold for a publicly-funded recount of a state legislative office remains unchanged—recounts for those offices would be provided when the vote difference is less than 0.5 percent.
The threshold was also changed for county, municipal and school district offices. If the number of votes cast is 50,000 or more, a recount may be requested at the expense of the local unit of government only if the difference in the vote totals between the apparent winning and losing candidates is less than 0.25 percent. If the number of votes cast is more than 400, but less than 50,000, a recount may be requested if the difference between the apparent winning candidate and losing candidates is less than 0.5 percent. A losing candidate whose vote totals fall outside these thresholds may still request a recount, but the recount must be conducted at the candidate’s expense.
Article 3 is the recommendations from the Governor’s Task Force on Election Integrity. This section allows for more data sharing between the Department of Corrections and the Office of the Secretary of State. It also requires a law enforcement agency to promptly investigate an alleged violation of the laws governing voter registration upon being notified by affidavit of an allegation of voter fraud. This replaces the current mandate that a county attorney promptly investigate and, upon probable cause, present the matter to a grand jury with whatever evidence is found.
Article 4 establishes pilot sites for electronic poll books for the 2013 municipal election cycle. Precincts in the following cities may participate in the project: Minnetonka, Moorhead, St. Anthony, St. Paul and St. Peter.
Article 5 includes changes to vacancy in nomination for both partisan and nonpartisan offices. Rep. Kim Norton (DFL-Rochester) also has a bill with the same language regarding nonpartisan vacancies in nomination in response to a situation in Rochester. Specifically, in the event of a death of a non-partisan candidate 84 or fewer days prior to the date of the election, or the death of a judicial candidate regardless of the date of death, the deceased candidate’s name would continue to appear on the ballot. If the deceased candidate is elected, the office would be declared vacant at the start of the new term and filled following procedures contained in existing law.
Article 6 deals with county governance structure so that county auditor-treasurers and recorders may be appointed instead of elected in Kandiyohi, Lake and Clay counties.
Many of the provisions in the omnibus are also traveling as independent bills. The House omnibus is different from the Senate omnibus bill in several ways. The House bill does not include the early voting provisions nor the primary date change, both of which are included in the Senate bill.
For more info, see the House Research summary document.
Questions? Contact Ann Lindstrom at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (651) 281-1261.
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