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Minnesota Office of the Secretary of State

News Review
Redesigned Absentee Ballot Envelopes and Instructions Announced
Posted Date: 11/13/2009



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                   

CONTACT: John Aiken



Ritchie introduces another common sense election reform; unveils redesigned absentee ballot envelopes and instructions

- Part of his office's ongoing efforts to enhance Minnesota's election system


SAINT PAUL, Minn.—Nov. 13, 2009—Secretary of State Mark Ritchie unveiled a redesign of absentee ballot envelopes and instructions today to further streamline Minnesota's absentee ballot process with the goal of helping more voters successfully cast their ballots in elections while maintaining election integrity safeguards. The secretary of state has asked that these redesigns be incorporated and approved through the Minnesota Rules process.


"While Minnesota's election system is considered one of the best in the nation, the 2008 election and recount experience yielded valuable lessons on how we can improve that system," Ritchie said. "Redesigning absentee ballot envelopes and instructions is a common-sense solution that helps to eliminate errors voters typically make that result in their ballots being rejected."


The redesign is the culmination of discussions and recommendations provided by voters, election officials and usability experts since December 2008.


"I held more than 35 meetings across Minnesota asking for input on how we can make our system even better," Ritchie said. "These discussions resulted in election reform proposals considered by the Legislature last year and proposed administrative rules. I am so thankful for the continued wealth of insight and perspective from local election officials and voters, and their eagerness to work with this office to improve Minnesota's election system."


The redesign of the absentee ballot envelope and instructions incorporates the following improvements:

·         more user-friendly instructions using plain language and clear format

·         an inventory of materials voters will need to complete their absentee ballots

·         primary-specific instructions removed from general election materials to reduce confusion

·         clear labeling of absentee ballot materials

·         better guidance to voters on how to correct mistakes on their ballots

·         improved step-by-step illustrations

·         visual cues that direct voters where to sign their names

·         redundant instructions on the absentee envelopes to remind voters of requirements

·         additional instructions for people with disabilities


"These positive changes clarify absentee-voter requirements by making voter instructions more user-friendly and easy to understand," Ritchie said.


The secretary of state published a notice of intent to adopt these rules in the state register on July 17, 2009. The full rules proposal will be published in the state register on Nov. 16, which then triggers the start of a 30-day public comment period. A conclusion to the rules process is expected in March 2010.



Graphics of absentee ballot envelopes and instructions (before & after proposed changes) can be found online at: