Thursday, October 30, 2014

Research Q of the Week: Behind the Not-So-Scary Scenes of Election Day (11/30)

Question: Oh my gosh, it’s almost time for perhaps one of the spookiest days of the year for city staff. ELECTION DAY! It’s so terrifying, I’ve blocked it out. What is it that happens on that day again?

Answer: Don't be afraid! City staff plan year-round to take the "eeee!" out of elections. What are city staffs doing behind the scenes to avoid a fright? Here are some of the more important things that must be done by city staff on and around Election Day:
  • Election judges get election materials, including precinct voter rosters and absentee ballot applications, from the clerk before 9 p.m. the night before (Nov. 3) or the clerk can arrange to have them delivered to the polling places before voting begins.
  • Before voting begins on Election Day, election judges prepare the polling place with a variety of duties required by law, such as posting the Voters’ Bill of Rights.
  • The city clerk must post a sample municipal ballot at each polling place.
  • Polls must be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Where the city administers absentee ballots, individuals returning absentee ballots on behalf of another voter must deliver these ballots by 3 p.m.
  • After polls close, two members of the ballot board must count the ballots, “tabulating the vote in a manner that indicates each vote of the voter and the total votes cast for each candidate or question.” The results must indicate the total votes cast for each candidate or question in each precinct and report the vote totals tabulated for each precinct. The count must be recorded on a summary statement.
  • Within 24 hours after the polls close, election judges must deliver the summary statements, ballots and other materials to the county auditor or clerk. Also within 24 hours of the polls closing, the absentee ballot board must accept or reject absentee ballots that arrived after rosters/supplemental reports were generated.
  • Within 48 hours after the polls closing, the clerk must return polling place rosters and completed voter registration cards to county auditors.
  • Nov. 7 is the first day the city council can meet as canvassing board for the municipal election this year. A canvassing board reviews the results of an election and either certifies vote totals as official, or orders and administers a recount if necessary.
The Secretary of State’s election division is always the best one-stop shop to help plan your not-so-scary Election Day: 2014 City Clerk Election Guide

Written by Edward Cadman, special counsel with the League of Minnesota Cities. Contact: or (651) 281-1229.

This blog post conveys general information. It’s not legal advice. Please check with your city attorney before acting on this information. 

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