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Minnesota Office of the Secretary of State

Newsletter Review
E-NEWS - January 2012
Posted Date: 1/3/2012

 Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State



Official online newsletter of the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State


1.     Special Elections for Senate District 59 and House District 61B on January 10
2.     Precinct Political Party Caucuses on February 7
3.     Caucus Finder: The Online Way to Locate Your Precinct Caucus
4.     MNVOTES Voter Education Workshops
5.     Cooperative Annual Renewals
6.     Starting a New Business? Start with us
7.     Business Filing: Name Availability Changes
8.     Notary Renewal Filing Period Is Now Open
9.     January Open Appointments
10.   Facebook and Twitter­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­________________________________________________________________________________


1.     Special Elections for Senate District 59 and House District 61B on January 10

Special Elections will be held on January 10, 2012 for Senate District 59 and House District 61B. The Senate District 59 vacancy was created when State Senator Lawrence J. Pogemiller was appointed by Governor Dayton to be the Director of the Office of Higher Education. Candidates on the ballot in Senate District 59 are: Ben Schwanke (Republican) and Kari Dziedzic (DFL). The vacancy in House District 61B was created when Representative Jeff Hayden was elected and sworn in to serve as the Senator for District 61. Candidates on the ballot in House District 61B are: Susan Allen (DFL) and Nathan Blumenshine (Respect).

Extended absentee voting in person will be available at Minneapolis City Hall and the Hennepin County Government Center from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturday, January 7, and on Monday, January 9 from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. For more information contact the Hennepin County Auditor at: or Minneapolis City Administrator at:

Voters may register to vote on Election Day with proper proof of residence. More information about absentee voting or registering to vote is available at:

Additional candidate and special election information is available on the Office of the Secretary of State website at:

2.     Precinct Political Party Caucuses on February 7

Precinct caucuses are meetings organized by Minnesota’s political parties to begin the process of selecting candidates for the 2012 election and policy positions to shape the party platform. Caucuses are a great opportunity to engage directly in the political process at the “grassroots” level.

Precinct caucuses are open to the public and participation is encouraged by the political parties. In order to vote, offer resolutions or become a delegate at a precinct caucus, attendees must be eligible to vote in the 2012 election, live in the precinct and be in general agreement with the principles of the political party. This year political parties will conduct a straw poll to gauge caucus attendees’ presidential candidate preference.

The Republican, Independence, Green, Democratic-Farmer-Labor, and Constitution Parties will hold caucuses on Tuesday, February 7, 2012 at 7 p.m. The Libertarian and Grassroots Parties will not hold caucuses in 2012.

A precinct caucus brochure that provides general information about the upcoming caucuses as well as contact information for each of Minnesota's six political parties is available online at:

3. Caucus Finder: The Online Way to Locate Your Precinct Caucus

Caucus Finder is an online application that assists Minnesotans in locating the major party precinct caucus meeting of their choice. Caucus Finder is scheduled to be available in mid-January, and will be linked to this office’s homepage at:

4.     MNVOTES Voter Education Workshops

In order to increase voter participation, encourage enthusiasm and create comfort around the electoral process, this office has created an interactive workshop that takes community members and first-time voters through the entire voting process. This exciting presentation will simulate a day at the polls, from filling out voter registration applications to placing ballots in the ballot counter. By the end of this presentation participants will feel prepared for—and excited about—voting in Minnesota elections.

The workshop is designed for students and first-time voters and can be presented in a variety of settings. If you would like to schedule a workshop for your school or community group, please visit to fill out a workshop request form.

5.    Cooperative Annual Renewals

This year has been designated as the International Year of the Cooperative. Minnesota has approximately 700 active cooperatives. On December 2, 2011, Secretary Mark Ritchie certified law changes that affect cooperatives. The certification signed by the Secretary was for Laws 2009, Chapter 101, sections 76, 77 and 78, and became effective on January 1, 2012. One of the changes affects the renewal filing period. Cooperative renewals will now need to be filed annually. In the past they were required to be filed every two years.

6.     Starting a New Business? Start with us.

The Office of the Secretary of State provides a variety of services to help you get your business or non-profit started including: business filing services, apostille and document authentication, and notary services. Information about these services is available online at: If you need further information or have questions call the Business Services Helpdesk at: 651-296-2803 or toll free at: 1-877-551-6767.

You may also visit our Business Services Center located in the Retirement Systems of Minnesota Building at 60 Empire Drive, Suite 100, St. Paul, MN 55103. The office is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Driving directions are available at:

7.     Business Filing: Name Availability Changes

Each business or nonprofit that files with this office to do business in the state of Minnesota must have a name different than that of any other organization filed to do business in Minnesota (except for assumed names).

Up until now, office staff have reviewed each filing individually to ensure that it was unique. The office is automating this process, which will allow customers to reserve names online. Automating the name availability function, however, required changes to the standard used when comparing a proposed name to those already reserved. Minnesota will now use a “one letter difference” standard similar to the state of Delaware. The system will ignore punctuation, spaces between letters and will not differentiate between an “&” and the word “and”.

If your proposed business or nonprofit name is rejected, but you believe it is unique, you can send in your request by mail and the staff will review it.

Please note that filing a business name with the Office of the Secretary of State does not prevent claims by others of unauthorized use of names already in use in commerce.

8.     Notary Renewal Filing Period Is Now Open

Notary commissions are valid for five years and expire on January 31 of the fifth year. Prior to their commission’s expiration, notaries must file to renew their commission. As of this year, notaries have a six-month window during which they can file their renewals that began on August 1.

Notaries have the option of filing either online or by mail. Please visit our website at: for instructions and forms. There is a $120 renewal filing fee that can be paid online using a credit card (Visa or Master card) or E-check.

Once renewals are approved, commission certificates are available online for immediate printing. Commission certificates will include additional instructions on registering with the notary’s county of residence. The county of residence will charge a $20 fee due upon registration.

9.     January Open Appointments

The January 2012 Open Appointments vacancy notice and application forms can be found at

If you have questions about open appointments, please contact this office at:

10.    Facebook and Twitter

“Like” this office on Facebook and check out the “Tuesday Trivia” question of the week. Be sure to follow this office on Twitter@mnsecofstate