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SF 3975

as introduced - 92nd Legislature (2021 - 2022) Posted on 03/15/2022 09:07am

KEY: stricken = removed, old language.
underscored = added, new language.
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A bill for an act
relating to elections; making technical and clarifying changes; amending Minnesota
Statutes 2020, sections 203B.07, subdivisions 1, 2, 3; 203B.21, subdivisions 1, 3;
203B.23, subdivision 2; Minnesota Statutes 2021 Supplement, sections 203B.121,
subdivision 4; 203B.24, subdivision 1.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

Section 1.

Minnesota Statutes 2020, section 203B.07, subdivision 1, is amended to read:


Subdivision 1.

Delivery of envelopes, directions.

The county auditor or the municipal
clerk shall prepare, print, and transmit a return envelope, new text begina signature envelope, new text enda deleted text beginballotdeleted text endnew text begin
secrecy
new text end envelope, and a copy of the directions for casting an absentee ballot to each applicant
whose application for absentee ballots is accepted pursuant to section 203B.04. The county
auditor or municipal clerk shall provide first class postage for the return envelope. The
directions for casting an absentee ballot shall be printed in at least 14-point bold type with
heavy leading and may be printed on the deleted text beginballotdeleted text endnew text begin secrecynew text end envelope. When a person requests
the directions in Braille or on audio file, the county auditor or municipal clerk shall provide
them in the form requested. The secretary of state shall prepare Braille and audio file copies
and make them available.

When a voter registration application is sent to the applicant as provided in section
203B.06, subdivision 4, the directions or registration application shall include instructions
for registering to vote.

Sec. 2.

Minnesota Statutes 2020, section 203B.07, subdivision 2, is amended to read:


Subd. 2.

Design of envelopes.

new text begin(a) new text endThe deleted text beginreturndeleted text endnew text begin signaturenew text end envelope shall be of sufficient
size to conveniently enclose and contain the deleted text beginballotdeleted text endnew text begin secrecynew text end envelope and a folded voter
registration application. The deleted text beginreturndeleted text endnew text begin signaturenew text end envelope shall be designed to open on the
left-hand end.

new text begin (b) new text endThe return envelope must be designed in one of the following ways:

(1) it must be of sufficient size to contain deleted text beginan additionaldeleted text endnew text begin a signaturenew text end envelope deleted text beginthat whendeleted text endnew text begin
and when the return envelope is
new text end sealed, new text beginit new text endconceals the signature, identification, and other
information; or

(2) it must new text beginbe the signature envelope and new text endprovide an additional flap that when sealed,
conceals the signature, identification, and other information.

new text begin (c) new text endElection officials may open the flap or the deleted text beginadditionaldeleted text endnew text begin returnnew text end envelope at any time
after receiving the returned ballot to inspect the returned certificate for completeness or to
ascertain other information.

Sec. 3.

Minnesota Statutes 2020, section 203B.07, subdivision 3, is amended to read:


Subd. 3.

Eligibility certificate.

A certificate of eligibility to vote by absentee ballot
shall be printed on the back of the deleted text beginreturndeleted text endnew text begin signaturenew text end envelope. The certificate shall contain
space for the voter's Minnesota driver's license number, state identification number, or the
last four digits of the voter's Social Security number, or to indicate that the voter does not
have one of these numbers. The space must be designed to ensure that the voter provides
the same type of identification as provided on the voter's absentee ballot application for
purposes of comparison. The certificate must also contain a statement to be signed and
sworn by the voter indicating that the voter meets all of the requirements established by law
for voting by absentee ballot and space for a statement signed by a person who is registered
to vote in Minnesota or by a notary public or other individual authorized to administer oaths
stating that:

(1) the ballots were displayed to that individual unmarked;

(2) the voter marked the ballots in that individual's presence without showing how they
were marked, or, if the voter was physically unable to mark them, that the voter directed
another individual to mark them; and

(3) if the voter was not previously registered, the voter has provided proof of residence
as required by section 201.061, subdivision 3.

Sec. 4.

Minnesota Statutes 2021 Supplement, section 203B.121, subdivision 4, is amended
to read:


Subd. 4.

Opening of envelopes.

After the close of business on the seventh day before
the election, the ballots from secrecy envelopes within the signature envelopes marked
"Accepted" may be opened, duplicated as needed in the manner provided in section 206.86,
subdivision 5
, initialed by the members of the ballot board, and deposited in the appropriate
ballot box. If more than one voted ballot is enclosed in the deleted text beginballotdeleted text endnew text begin secrecynew text end envelope, the
ballots must be returned in the manner provided by section 204C.25 for return of spoiled
ballots, and may not be counted.

Sec. 5.

Minnesota Statutes 2020, section 203B.21, subdivision 1, is amended to read:


Subdivision 1.

Form.

Absentee ballots under sections 203B.16 to 203B.27 shall conform
to the requirements of the Minnesota Election Law, except that modifications in the size or
form of ballots or envelopes may be made if necessary to satisfy the requirements of the
United States postal service. The return envelope must be designed in one of the following
ways:

(1) it must be of sufficient size to contain deleted text beginan additionaldeleted text endnew text begin a signaturenew text end envelope deleted text beginthat whendeleted text endnew text begin
and when the return envelope is
new text end sealed, new text beginit new text endconceals the signature, identification, and other
information; or

(2) it must new text beginbe the signature envelope and new text endprovide an additional flap that when sealed,
conceals the signature, identification, and other information.

The flap or the deleted text beginadditionaldeleted text endnew text begin returnnew text end envelope must be perforated to permit election officials to
inspect the returned certificate for completeness or to ascertain other information at any
time after receiving the returned ballot without opening the deleted text beginreturndeleted text endnew text begin signaturenew text end envelope.

Sec. 6.

Minnesota Statutes 2020, section 203B.21, subdivision 3, is amended to read:


Subd. 3.

Back of deleted text beginreturndeleted text endnew text begin signaturenew text end envelope.

On the back of the deleted text beginreturndeleted text endnew text begin signaturenew text end envelope
a certificate shall appear with space for:

(1) the voter's address of present or former residence in Minnesota;

(2) the voter's current e-mail address, if the voter has one;

(3) a statement indicating the category described in section 203B.16 to which the voter
belongs;

(4) a statement that the voter has not cast and will not cast another absentee ballot in the
same election or elections;

(5) a statement that the voter personally marked the ballots without showing them to
anyone, or if physically unable to mark them, that the voter directed another individual to
mark them; and

(6) the same voter's passport number, Minnesota driver's license or state identification
card number, or the last four digits of the voter's Social Security number as provided on the
absentee ballot application; if the voter does not have access to any of these documents, the
voter may attest to the truthfulness of the contents of the certificate under penalty of perjury.

The certificate shall also contain a signed oath in the form required by section 705 of
the Help America Vote Act, Public Law 107-252, which must read:

"I swear or affirm, under penalty of perjury, that:

I am a member of the uniformed services or merchant marine on active duty or an eligible
spouse or dependent of such a member; a United States citizen temporarily residing outside
the United States; or other United States citizen residing outside the United States; and I
am a United States citizen, at least 18 years of age (or will be by the date of the election),
and I am eligible to vote in the requested jurisdiction; I have not been convicted of a felony,
or other disqualifying offense, or been adjudicated mentally incompetent, or, if so, my voting
rights have been reinstated; and I am not registering, requesting a ballot, or voting in any
other jurisdiction in the United States except the jurisdiction cited in this voting form. In
voting, I have marked and sealed my ballot in private and have not allowed any person to
observe the marking of the ballot, except for those authorized to assist voters under state or
federal law. I have not been influenced.

The information on this form is true, accurate, and complete to the best of my knowledge.
I understand that a material misstatement of fact in completion of this document may
constitute grounds for a conviction for perjury."

Sec. 7.

Minnesota Statutes 2020, section 203B.23, subdivision 2, is amended to read:


Subd. 2.

Duties.

new text begin(a) new text endThe absentee ballot board must examine all returned absentee ballot
envelopes for ballots issued under sections 203B.16 to 203B.27 and accept or reject the
absentee ballots in the manner provided in section 203B.24. If the certificate of voter
eligibility is not printed on the deleted text beginreturn or administrativedeleted text endnew text begin signaturenew text end envelope, the certificate
must be attached to the deleted text beginballotdeleted text end secrecy envelope.

new text begin (b) new text endThe absentee ballot board must immediately examine the deleted text beginreturndeleted text endnew text begin signaturenew text end envelopes
new text begin or certificates of voter eligibility that are attached to the secrecy envelopes new text endand mark them
"accepted" or "rejected" during the 45 days before the election. If an envelope has been
rejected at least five days before the election, the ballots in the envelope must be considered
spoiled ballots and the official in charge of the absentee ballot board must provide the voter
with a replacement absentee ballot and deleted text beginreturn envelopedeleted text endnew text begin envelopesnew text end in place of the spoiled
ballot.

new text begin (c) new text endIf a county has delegated the responsibility for administering absentee balloting to
a municipality under section 203B.05, accepted absentee ballots must be delivered to the
appropriate municipality's absentee ballot board. The absentee ballot board with the authority
to open and count the ballots must do so in accordance with section 203B.121, subdivisions
4 and 5.

Sec. 8.

Minnesota Statutes 2021 Supplement, section 203B.24, subdivision 1, is amended
to read:


Subdivision 1.

Check of voter eligibility; proper execution of certificate.

Upon receipt
of an absentee ballot returned as provided in sections 203B.16 to 203B.27, the election
judges shall compare the voter's name with the names recorded under section 203B.19 in
the statewide registration system to insure that the ballot is from a voter eligible to cast an
absentee ballot under sections 203B.16 to 203B.27. The election judges shall mark the
signature envelope "Accepted" and initial or sign the signature envelope below the word
"Accepted" if the election judges are satisfied that:

(1) the voter's name and address on the signature envelope appears in substantially the
same form as on the application records provided to the election judges by the county auditor;

(2) the voter has signed the federal oath prescribed pursuant to section 705(b)(2) of the
Help America Vote Act, Public Law 107-252;

(3) the voter has set forth the same voter's passport number, or Minnesota driver's license
or state identification card number, or the last four digits of the voter's Social Security
number as submitted on the application, if the voter has one of these documents;

(4) the voter is not known to have died; and

(5) the voter has not already voted at that election, either in person or by absentee ballot.

If the identification number described in clause (3) does not match the number as
submitted on the application, the election judges must make a reasonable effort to satisfy
themselves through other information provided by the applicant, or by an individual
authorized to apply on behalf of the voter, that the ballots were returned by the same person
to whom the ballots were transmitted.

An absentee ballot cast pursuant to sections 203B.16 to 203B.27 may only be rejected
for the lack of one of clauses (1) to (5). In particular, failure to place the ballot within the
secrecy envelope before placing it in the deleted text beginouter whitedeleted text endnew text begin signaturenew text end envelope is not a reason to
reject an absentee ballot.

Election judges must note the reason for rejection on the back of the envelope in the
space provided for that purpose.

Failure to return unused ballots shall not invalidate a marked ballot, but a ballot shall
not be counted if the certificate on the deleted text beginreturndeleted text endnew text begin signaturenew text end envelope is not properly executed.
In all other respects the provisions of the Minnesota Election Law governing deposit and
counting of ballots shall apply. Notwithstanding other provisions of this section, the counting
of the absentee ballot of a deceased voter does not invalidate the election.