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Secretary Simon: Special Election Reform Win For Minnesota Voters

May 22, 2017

New law creates five uniform dates throughout the calendar year when special elections can now be held

SAINT PAUL — Today, Secretary of State Steve Simon called the passage of a new reform to special elections in Minnesota “a win for Minnesota voters who want to make their voice heard in all elections," noting it will improve the clarity and consistency around participation in special elections.

The requirement, which Secretary Simon supported, was included in the Elections Omnibus Bill (authored by Rep. Fenton [R-Woodbury] and Sen. Kiffmeyer [R-Big Lake]) and creates five uniform dates throughout the calendar year when a special election in Minnesota is now allowed to be held to fill a vacancy in local elections or for ballot question special elections. Those five dates include:

  • The second Tuesday in February
  • The second Tuesday in April
  • The second Tuesday in May
  • The second Tuesday in August
  • The second Tuesday after the first Monday in November (IE. General Election Day)

“We should be making it as easy as possible for eligible Minnesotans to vote in all elections, and that includes knowing when to vote in special elections,” said Secretary Simon. “This reform is a win for Minnesota voters who want to make their voice heard in all elections and will improve the clarity and consistency around participation in special elections.”

Prior to the new law, special elections could be held at any time of year. As a result, it often led to confusion for Minnesota voters on when a special election was being held in their area.

The Elections Omnibus bill also provides important clarifications for election administration officials throughout the state, such as clarifying that a person elected in a special election for a school district vacancy takes the seat immediately; clarifying that the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State cannot accept write-in candidates after 5 p.m. on the last day to file as a write-in candidate; allowing cities to canvass on the second or third day after a primary election—giving cities greater flexibility to conduct and complete their canvass; and clarifying that counties can include an “I Voted” sticker with absentee balloting materials.

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