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Minnesota Office of the Secretary of State

Frequently Asked Questions

Listed below are all FAQs. To select a specific topic click on the down arrow under "Please Choose a Category."

How do candidates for president and vice president get on the ballot in Minnesota?
May write-in votes be counted for presidential and vice-presidential candidates?
Is there a statewide primary for president and vice president in Minnesota?
What is the difference between certified and non-certified copies?
Can someone's right to vote be challenged because of his or her physical appearance or accent?
How do I file an Express Filing?
How do I dissolve my business?
What is the process involved in recalling an elected state officer?
How many people living in Minnesota are Safe at Home participants?
What is a recount?
Can an automatic hand recount be waived?
Who pays for a statewide recount?
Why do vote totals on the Secretary of State’s website change after Election Day?
When do election results become official?
Are recounts open to the public?
Who may physically handle ballots during a hand recount?
What is the process for recounting ballots?
Are absentee ballots counted in a recount?
What is a “challenged” ballot?
Why would a ballot be challenged?
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Q: How do candidates for president and vice president get on the ballot in Minnesota?
A:

The method for gaining ballot access for president and vice president depends on whether the candidate is affiliated with one of the three major parties in Minnesota. For major party presidential candidates, their ten electors are to be nominated at delegate conventions under the supervision of the party’s state central committee. At least 71 days before the state general election (August 29, 2016), the chair of a major political party shall certify to the secretary of state the names of persons nominated as presidential electors and the names of the party candidates for president and vice-president. (M.S. 208.03)

Minor party and independent presidential electors must be nominated by petition. The names of the candidates for president and vice-president must be added to the political party or political principle stated on the nominating petition. (M.S. 204B.07, subd. 2) At least 2,000 valid signatures of eligible voters are required on the petition. Signatures for the nominating petition may not be gathered until the first day of the filing period (May 17, 2016). (M.S. 204B.08) Nominating petitions with the required signatures must be filed with the Office of Secretary of State at least 77 days before the state general election (August 23, 2016). (M.S. 204B.09, subd. 1(c) )

-Nominating Petition (Presidential Electors) (print on 8.5" x 14" (legal size) paper)
-Example Nominating Petition (Presidential Electors)

See Filing Periods for specific dates for a given year.

Q: May write-in votes be counted for presidential and vice-presidential candidates?
A:
Yes. The candidate must file a written request with the Office of Secretary of State to count write-in votes no later than the seventh day prior to the general election (November 1, 2016). A candidate who files a request must include the name of a vice-presidential candidate. The request must include the name of at least one candidate for presidential elector. The total number of names of candidates for presidential elector on the request may not exceed the total number of electoral votes (10) to be cast by Minnesota in the presidential election (M.S. 204B.09, subd. 3).
Q: Is there a statewide primary for president and vice president in Minnesota?
A:
No. The presidential primary law was repealed in 1999. At the state political party precinct caucuses, participants may vote on a preference ballot for presidential candidates. (M.S. 202A.18, subd. 2a.) The 2016 precinct caucuses are currently scheduled to be held on February 2, 2016.  (M.S. 202A.14)
Q: What is the difference between certified and non-certified copies?
A:
A certified document is a duplicate copy with a certification stamp on the last page of the document.  Non-certified copies are a duplicate copy of what is on record for the document requested.
Q: Can someone's right to vote be challenged because of his or her physical appearance or accent?
A:
No. Challengers cannot challenge a voter’s registration simply on a whim. Challengers must have personal knowledge that the voter is not eligible to vote and must sign an oath attesting to the validity of their claim.
Q: How do I file an Express Filing?
A:

Select the PDF form. Complete the entire form and save it to your computer, before uploading the form for filing. It is important to note that the document file size must be less than 2 megabytes. The file name must be 10 characters or less and contain no punctuation, spaces or special characters.

If a PDF form is not available for your filing type, you may upload a document that you have created directly for filing in a .pdf format.

Please note a typed name at the bottom of the form, in the usual space for the signature, satisfies the legal requirement for a signature (for filings requiring signatures).

Filing Instructions for filing online with PDF form:

  • Click on the link to the fillable PDF form.
  • Open and complete the information on the form.
  • After you have completed, save it to your computer.
  • Close the form, by clicking on [File] and select [Close] from the drop down menu.
  • You must now upload your form to complete the filing process.

Instructions for Uploading a PDF Document:

  • Upload the filing form PDF you just created by clicking on the [Upload file] button.
  • Enter the required information and click [Continue] to review your filing information.
  • Review the information you provided and click [Submit Filing].
  • Click [Continue to US Bank] if your filing requires a fee.
  • After the filing process is complete (and your payment has been confirmed, if you paid a fee), you will receive an email confirming your filing.

If you have questions, please call: 651-296-2803 (Metro Area); 1-877-551-6767 (toll-free); or Minnesota Relay Service: 711, or Email: business.services@state.mn.us.

Q: How do I dissolve my business?
A:
File online or select the appropriate form(s) for dissolution from our website, Business & Nonprofit Forms.
Q: What is the process involved in recalling an elected state officer?
A:

(Please note:  A recall election may not occur fewer than six months before the end of the term of the elected state officer.). 

Step 1:  A proposed petition to recall an elected state officer (“Proposed Recall Petition”) stating the specific grounds upon which the state officer is sought to be recalled and a complete synopsis (summary) of the specific facts that are alleged to warrant (justify) recall on those grounds must be signed by 25 or more persons who are eligible voters residing within the area served by the official. (Blank sample petitions are available from the Secretary of State or on the Secretary of State’s web site, at the Petitions webpage) (Minnesota Statutes §211C.04)

Step 2:  The petitioners must file the Proposed Recall Petition with the Secretary of State along with a $100.00 filing fee.  The petition must designate in writing no more than three individuals among the signers to represent all petitioners in matters relating to the recall. (Minnesota Rule 8205.2000)

Step 3:  The Secretary of State verifies that the Proposed Recall Petition contains at least 25 valid signatures.  (Minnesota Statutes §211C.04; Minnesota Rule 8205.2010)

Step 4:  If fewer than 25 valid signatures, the Proposed Recall Petition is dismissed by the Secretary of State.  If the Proposed Recall Petition satisfies all requirements, the Secretary of State shall immediately notify in writing the State Officer named and forward the Proposed Recall Petition to the Clerk of Appellate Courts.  (Minnesota Statutes §211C.04)

Step 5:  Upon receiving the Proposed Recall Petition from the Secretary of State, the Clerk of Appellate Courts shall submit it immediately to the Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court (“Chief Justice”).  (Minnesota Statutes §211C.05, subdivision 1)

Step 6:  The persons proposing the Proposed Recall Petition provide materials supporting the petition to the Chief Justice (or designee).  (Minnesota Statutes § 211C.05, subdivision 1)

Step 7:  The officer who is named in the Proposed Recall Petition may submit materials in opposition to the Chief Justice (or designee).  (Minnesota Statutes §211C.05, subdivision 1)

Step 8:  The Chief Justice (or designee) shall review the Proposed Recall Petition to determine whether it alleges specific facts that, if proven, would constitute grounds for recall under the Minnesota Constitution, Article VIII, Section 6; and Minnesota Statutes §211C.02

Step 9:  If the Proposed Recall Petition does not allege specific facts that, if proven, would constitute grounds for recall, the Chief Justice (or designee) shall immediately issue an order dismissing the Proposed Recall Petition and indicating the reason for dismissal.

If the Proposed Recall Petition does allege specific facts that, if proven, would constitute grounds for recall, the Chief Justice (or designee) shall assign the case to a special master (an active Judge or retired Judge) for a public hearing. (Minnesota Statutes §211C.05, subdivision 1)

Step 10:  The special master holds a public hearing on the allegations of the Proposed Recall Petition must be held within 21 days after the issuance of the order assigning the case to a special master (Minnesota Statutes §211C.05, subdivision 2)

Step 11:  Within seven days after the end of the public hearing, the special master must report to the Supreme Court:

“(1) Whether the persons proposing the petition have shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the factual allegations supporting the petition are true; and

(2) If so, whether the persons proposing the petition have shown that the facts found to be true are sufficient grounds for issuing a recall petition.”

“If the special master determines that these standards have been met, the report must include a statement of specific facts and grounds for the recall petition” (Minnesota Statutes §211C.05, subdivision 2)

Step 12:  Within 20 days, the Supreme Court shall review the report of the special master and make a decision:

If the Supreme Court decides that the standard expressed in Minnesota Statutes §211C.05, subdivision 2 has not been met the Supreme Court shall dismiss the Proposed Recall Petition.  (If the Supreme Court dismisses a petition under this section because the persons proposing the petition have acted in bad faith in violation of Minnesota Statutes §211C.09, the Supreme Court may assess the persons proposing the petition for reasonable costs of conducting the proceeding.)

If the Supreme Court decides that the standard has been met the court shall prescribe, by order to the Secretary of State, the statement of the specific facts and grounds that must appear on the petition for recall issued under section 211C.06.  (Minnesota Statutes §211C.05, subdivision 3)

Step 13:  Upon receipt of the order from the Supreme Court, the Secretary of State shall issue a Recall Petition.  (Minnesota Statutes §211C.06)

Step 14:  The Recall Petition is circulated.  Petitioners must collect signatures of eligible voters who reside in the district where the officer serves equal to at least 25 percent of the number of votes cast for the office at the most recent general election.  (Minnesota Constitution, Article VIII, Section 6)

Step 15:  The Recall Petition must be filed with Secretary of State within 90 days after the date of issuance.  (Minn. Stat. §211C.06)

Step 16:  Upon the filing of the Recall Petition, the Secretary of State verifies the numbers and eligibility of the signers.

If the Secretary of State determines that a Recall Petition has been signed by a sufficient number of eligible voters, the Secretary of State certifies the Recall Petition and immediately notifies, in writing, the governor, the petitioners, and the state officer named in the Recall Petition.

If the Recall Petition is not signed by a sufficient number of eligible voters, the Secretary of State dismisses the petition.  (Minnesota Statutes §211C.06)

Step 17:  Within five days of receiving certification of a petition, the Governor issues a Writ calling for a recall election unless the election cannot be held before the deadline specified in the Minnesota Constitution, Article VIII, section 6 (i.e. six months before the end of the officer’s term)  (Minnesota Constitution Article VII, section 6; Minnesota Statutes §211C.07)

Step 18:  A recall election is held, and the results canvassed and returned, in the manner provided by law for the state general election:

A question will appear on the ballot giving the voters a yes or no choice on whether or not to recall the elected state officer.  If a majority of the votes cast in a recall election favor the removal of the state officer, the state officer is removed from office as of the date the election results are certified and the office is vacant. If a voter casts a blank ballot it will have the effect of being a no vote.  (Minnesota Statutes §211C.07)

 

 

 

Q: How many people living in Minnesota are Safe at Home participants?
A:
As of December 31, 2012, there were more than 1200 active Safe at Home participants. Since Safe at Home began on September 1, 2007, the program had served more than 2200 Minnesota citizens. 
Q: What is a recount?
A:
A recount is a process in which election officials review by hand each ballot that was cast on Election Day to determine precisely the vote count between two candidates whose vote margin is extremely close. On Election Night, most Minnesotans place their ballots in optical-scan machines that electronically tally the votes at the end of the night. While these machines are very accurate and are periodically audited to ensure that accuracy, a recount ensures that all ballots are viewed by hand to determine each voter’s candidate choices.  A small percentage of voters – usually about 1 in every 2,000 or 3,000 (approximately 1,000 out of 2 million voters) mark their ballot in a way that cannot be read by the machine. For example, the voter circles a candidate name or makes a marking outside of the bubble. A recount ensures that these votes are also properly tallied. 
Q: Can an automatic hand recount be waived?
A:
Yes. The candidate who trails the vote leader has the option of waiving the automatic recount. The waiver must be submitted in writing to the canvassing board.
Q: Who pays for a statewide recount?
A:
If the margin between the two top candidates falls within one-half of one percent, an automatic hand recount is required by state law. In the instance that an automatic hand count is required, the taxpayers pay for the recount. If the vote margin is greater than the one-half of one percent, a candidate can still request a full or partial recount but it is at his or her own expense.
Q: Why do vote totals on the Secretary of State’s website change after Election Day?
A:

On Election Night, county election officials enter unofficial election results on the Office of the Secretary of State office’s website. Following Election Day, county election officials audit and proof their work to make any corrections as necessary before they canvass their results.

It is routine for election officials to discover a number of small errors, including improper data entry, transposition of digits (e.g., entering the number 48 instead of 84), and other items that affect the reported outcome. For example, in 2006 the difference between the number of votes for U.S. Senate candidates Mark Kennedy and Amy Klobuchar changed by more than 2,100 votes between the first unofficial results reported on this office’s website and the final official results reported to the State Canvassing Board.

As corrections are entered on the website by the local election officials, the statewide unofficial results are updated to reflect the changes. Each county auditor will present their final tallies to their respective county canvassing boards for approval. These reports are then sent to the Office of the Secretary of State where they are carefully reviewed and incorporated into a statewide canvass report that is presented to the State Canvassing Board.

Q: When do election results become official?
A:
Results of statewide and multi-county races are not official until they have been certified by the State Canvassing Board which, according to state law, must meet three weeks after Election Day. 
Q: Are recounts open to the public?
A:
Yes. Viewing areas are established for the public to watch the recounting of ballots and attend all county and State Canvassing Board meetings. Please refer to the Secretary of State’s website for information about times and locations.
Q: Who may physically handle ballots during a hand recount?
A:
Ballots may only be handled by trained election officials throughout the entire recount process. Candidates, their representatives and the public may view the recount process but cannot touch the ballots.
Q: What is the process for recounting ballots?
A:

The recount process is determined and detailed by Minnesota law.  The first step in a recount process is to assemble all eligible ballots.  The ballots are counted precinct by precinct within the county in which they were cast.  A recount official, generally the county auditor, is designated for each county and is in charge of the room in which the recount is occurring.  

Ballots are then separated into piles — one for each candidate involved in the recount, and one for all other ballots, including those cast for other candidates, those for which the voter’s intent cannot be determined, and/or those declared ineligible due to markings or other problems.  All ballots within a precinct are sorted at the same time and are examined by an election official to determine the voter’s intent, in accordance with Minnesota Statutes, section 204C.22.  Each candidate is allowed to have a representative observe the election officials sorting, and a candidate’s representative may challenge the decision of the election official.

If there is an objection to the decision being made by the election official by either one or both of the candidates’ representatives, the ballot in dispute becomes “challenged.”  The recount official may decide whether or not the challenge is valid.  If it is decided the challenge is valid, and if the challenge is not withdrawn, the ballot is marked as challenged and sent to the State Canvassing Board for review and decision.

Once ballots have been sorted into these piles, they are counted by election officials in stacks of 25 and the precinct’s vote count for each candidate is announced.

Q: Are absentee ballots counted in a recount?
A:
Yes. Accepted absentee ballots are sorted by precinct and counted along with the votes cast in the polling place.
Q: What is a “challenged” ballot?
A:
During recounting, a candidate’s representative may disagree with the election official’s determination of voter intent on a ballot.  These challenged ballots then go to the State Canvassing Board for review and decision.
Q: Why would a ballot be challenged?
A:
There are essentially two reasons a ballot can be challenged.  One reason is that the voter’s intent is unclear.  Ballots can also be challenged if the voter has written information on the ballot that could make the ballot identifiable. “Identifying marks” are defined by the law as a voter’s signature, an ID number, or a name written completely outside of the space for a write-in candidate.
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