SAINT PAUL — Secretary of State Steve Simon lauded legislation today that will help ensure Minnesota is prepared if a natural disaster or other large scale incident occurs affecting an election — noting that the new law goes “a long way” toward ensuring both local control and uniformity of voting experiences across the state in an emergency. The bill was included in the Elections Omnibus Bill and is now on its way to the Governor’s desk.
The bill — based on recommendations from a task force chaired by Secretary Simon — requires the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State to create a state elections emergency plan, requires counties to develop local emergency plans, and expands the authority of local elections officials in case of an emergency. See below for further details.
“Minnesota is known for having some of the highest voter turnout in the nation, and that’s why it is absolutely critical that we are prepared if a large portion of the state is affected by a disaster,” said Secretary Simon. “The recommendations adopted today go a long way toward providing strong local control during an emergency, while still ensuring uniformity of voting experiences across the state.”
While Minnesota is already well-equipped to deal with issues affecting one or two polling locations, it was determined last year that additional work was needed to ensure Minnesota is prepared for larger scale disruptions, such as Hurricane Sandy’s impact on the 2012 election.
The bill (SF2457 & 2458 [Sieben]/HF2774 & 2775 [Fenton]) adopted recommendations from the Elections Emergency Planning Task Force. The task force met with experts in election administration, emergency preparedness, and emergency response, examining a variety of issues, including potential emergency scenarios and maintaining ballot security. The recommendations of the task force include:
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