Mail Balloting Information
Townships throughout Minnesota have received a notice from their county auditor regarding mail-in balloting in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The notices ask townships to adopt mail balloting for the 2020 statewide primary election on August 11, and the statewide general election on November 3. Some townships report the notices indicate townships must adopt mail balloting elections, but that is incorrect. There are several clarifications MAT would like to make about mail balloting.
Does the town have to switch to mail-in balloting?
No, this is ultimately the town board’s decision. The town will not face any legal repercussions for keeping in-person elections. However, if a town adopts mail-in balloting, it does lose part of its ability to conduct elections while the policy is in place. Even if the language contained in the notice seems mandatory, a town board chooses whether to use mail balloting and cannot be forced to do so.
If a town does enact a mail-in balloting procedure, Minnesota Statutes 204B.45, says that it must remain in place until the town revokes the resolution. If the town is considering readopting in-person voting, it must repeal mail-in balloting, by resolution at least 90 days before the nearest election.
Is there a procedure for residents to vote remotely without adopting mail-in balloting?
Yes, absentee ballots are available to town residents. Also, the Minnesota Legislature is proposing legislation that expands the ability to vote remotely through what they call “Provisional Ballots.” This legislation would allow concerned residents to vote remotely without having to be eligible for absentee voting, and the town does not have to switch to mail-in balloting.
If we were to switch to mail-in balloting, what is the procedure?
The town board must pass a resolution, as prescribed by Minnesota Statutes 204B.45, at least 90-days before the upcoming election or primary and then notify the county auditor within 2 weeks of adoption, Minn. R. 8210.3000. If the town is looking to enact mail-in balloting for the November election, they must do so by August 5th.
Should our Town switch to mail-in balloting?
That is for the town board to decide. However, before deciding to enact mail-in balloting as was recommended by the Secretary of State’s office or the County Auditor’s office, the town board should consider all the factors before switching to mail-in balloting.
The board should consider: (1) whether its polling place is large enough to accommodate social distancing during the election; (2) whether its election judges are wiling to serve this year; and (3) whether the town board wants to keep an in-person polling during the COVID-19 pandemic.