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CHAPTER 205A. SCHOOL DISTRICT ELECTIONS

Table of Sections
SectionHeadnote
205A.01DEFINITIONS.
205A.02ELECTION LAW APPLICABLE.
205A.03PRIMARIES.
205A.04GENERAL ELECTION.
205A.05SPECIAL ELECTIONS.
205A.06CANDIDATES, FILING.
205A.07NOTICE.
205A.08BALLOTS.
205A.09VOTING HOURS.
205A.10PROCEDURE.
205A.11PRECINCTS; POLLING PLACES.
205A.12SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION DISTRICTS.
205A.13REQUIREMENTS FOR PETITIONS.
205A.01 DEFINITIONS.
    Subdivision 1. Scope. The definitions in chapter 200 and in this section apply to this chapter.
    Subd. 2. School district. "School district" means an independent or special school district, as
defined in section 120A.05.
History: 1987 c 266 art 1 s 48; 1999 c 86 art 1 s 46
205A.02 ELECTION LAW APPLICABLE.
Except as provided by law, the Minnesota Election Law applies to school district elections.
Elections in common school districts shall be governed by section 123B.94.
History: 1987 c 266 art 1 s 49; 1998 c 397 art 11 s 3; 2004 c 293 art 2 s 39
205A.03 PRIMARIES.
    Subdivision 1. Required primary in certain circumstances. In a school district election,
if there are more than two candidates for a specified school board position or more than twice
as many school board candidates as there are at-large school board positions available, a school
district must hold a primary.
    Subd. 2. Date. The school district primary must be held on the first Tuesday after the second
Monday in September in the year when the school district general election is held. The clerk shall
give notice of the primary in the manner provided in section 205A.07.
    Subd. 3. Candidates, filing. The clerk shall place upon the primary ballot without partisan
designation the names of individuals whose candidacies have been filed and for whom the proper
filing fee has been paid. When not more than twice as many school board candidates as there are
at-large school board positions available file for nomination for the office or when not more than
two candidates for a specified school board position file for nomination for that office, their names
must not be placed upon the primary ballot and must be placed on the school district general
election ballot as the nominees for that office.
    Subd. 4. Results. The school district primary must be conducted and the returns made
in the manner provided for the state primary as far as practicable. Within two days after the
primary, the school board of the school district shall canvass the returns, and the two candidates
for each specified school board position who receive the highest number of votes, or a number
of candidates equal to twice the number of individuals to be elected to at-large school board
positions who receive the highest number of votes, are the nominees for the office named. Their
names must be certified to the school district clerk who shall place them on the school district
general election ballot without partisan designation and without payment of an additional fee.
    Subd. 5. Recount. A losing candidate at the school district primary may request a recount of
the votes for that nomination subject to section 204C.36.
    Subd. 6. Vacancy in nomination. When a vacancy occurs in a nomination made at a school
district primary, the vacancy must be filled in the manner provided in section 204B.13.
History: 1987 c 266 art 1 s 50; 1994 c 646 s 16,17; 1Sp2003 c 9 art 2 s 43-45
205A.04 GENERAL ELECTION.
    Subdivision 1. School district general election. The general election in each school district
must be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of either the odd-numbered
or the even-numbered year.
    Subd. 2.[Repealed, 1994 c 646 s 28]
History: 1987 c 266 art 1 s 51; 1991 c 227 s 22; 1994 c 646 s 18
205A.05 SPECIAL ELECTIONS.
    Subdivision 1. Questions. Special elections must be held for a school district on a question
on which the voters are authorized by law to pass judgment. The school board may on its own
motion call a special election to vote on any matter requiring approval of the voters of a district.
Upon petition of 50 or more voters of the school district or five percent of the number of voters
voting at the preceding school district general election, whichever is greater, the school board
shall by resolution call a special election to vote on any matter requiring approval of the voters of
a district. A question is carried only with the majority in its favor required by law. The election
officials for a special election are the same as for the most recent school district general election
unless changed according to law. Otherwise, special elections must be conducted and the returns
made in the manner provided for the school district general election. A special election may not be
held during the 30 days before and the 30 days after the state primary, during the 30 days before
and the 40 days after the state general election. In addition, a special election may not be held
during the 20 days before and the 20 days after any regularly scheduled election of a municipality
wholly or partially within the school district. Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, the
time period in which a special election must be conducted under any other law may be extended
by the school board to conform with the requirements of this subdivision.
    Subd. 2. Vacancies in school district offices. Special elections shall be held in school
districts in conjunction with school district primary and general elections to fill vacancies in
elective school district offices.
History: 1987 c 266 art 1 s 52; 1990 c 453 s 12; 1993 c 375 art 7 s 8; 1997 c 147 s 45; 1999
c 132 s 35; 2007 c 146 art 1 s 19
205A.06 CANDIDATES, FILING.
    Subdivision 1. Affidavit of candidacy. An individual who is eligible and desires to become
a candidate for an office to be voted on at the election must file an affidavit of candidacy with
the school district clerk. The affidavit must be in substantially the same form as that in section
204B.06, subdivision 1. The school district clerk shall also accept an application signed by at least
five voters and filed on behalf of an eligible voter in the school district whom they desire to be a
candidate, if service of a copy of the application has been made on the candidate and proof of
service is endorsed on the application being filed. No individual shall be nominated by nominating
petition for a school district elective office except in the event of a vacancy in nomination as
provided in section 205A.03, subdivision 6. Upon receipt of the proper filing fee, the clerk shall
place the name of the candidate on the official ballot without partisan designation.
    Subd. 1a. Filing period. Affidavits of candidacy must be filed with the school district clerk
no earlier than the 70th day and no later than the 56th day before the first Tuesday after the second
Monday in September in the year when the school district general election is held.
    Subd. 1b. Sex offender ineligible as school board candidate. A sex offender who has been
convicted of an offense for which registration is required under section 243.166 is ineligible
to become a candidate for the office of school board member and may not file an affidavit of
candidacy for that office. Ineligibility is determined by the registration requirements in effect at
the time the offender files for office, not by the registration requirements, if any, that were in
effect at the time the offender was convicted.
    Subd. 1c. Absent candidates. A candidate for the office of school board member who will
be absent from the state during the filing period may submit a properly executed affidavit of
candidacy, the appropriate filing fee, and any necessary petitions in person to the filing officer.
The candidate shall state in writing the reason for being unable to submit the affidavit during the
filing period. The affidavit, filing fee, and petitions must be submitted to the filing officer during
the seven days immediately preceding the candidate's absence from the state.
    Subd. 2. Notice of filing dates. At least two weeks before the first day to file affidavits of
candidacy, the school district clerk shall publish a notice in the official newspaper stating the first
and last dates on which affidavits of candidacy may be filed in the clerk's office and the closing
time for filing on the last day for filing. The clerk shall post a similar notice in the administrative
offices of the school district at least ten days before the first day to file affidavits of candidacy.
    Subd. 3. Filing fees. The filing fee for a school district office is $2.
    Subd. 4. Petition in place of fees. A candidate for school district office may file a petition
in place of the filing fees in subdivision 3. The petition must meet the requirements of section
204B.11, subdivision 2.
    Subd. 5. Withdrawal. A candidate for a school district elective office may withdraw from
the election by filing an affidavit of withdrawal with the school district clerk no later than 5:00
p.m. two days after the last day for filing affidavits of candidacy. After that date, no candidate
may file an affidavit of withdrawal.
History: 1987 c 266 art 1 s 53; 1994 c 646 s 19,20; 1999 c 101 s 2; 2000 c 467 s 29,30;
1Sp2003 c 9 art 2 s 46
205A.07 NOTICE.
    Subdivision 1. Publication and posting. The clerk of a school district shall give two weeks'
published notice and give ten days' posted notice of a school district primary, general, or special
election, stating the time of the election, the location of each polling place, the offices to be filled,
and all propositions or questions to be voted upon at the primary, general, or special election. The
notice shall be posted in the administrative offices of the school district for public inspection.
    Subd. 2. Sample ballot, posting. For every school district primary, general, or special
election, the school district clerk shall at least four days before the primary, general, or special
election, post a sample ballot in the administrative offices of the school district for public
inspection, and shall post a sample ballot in each polling place on election day.
    Subd. 3. Notice to auditor. At least 53 days prior to every school district election, the
school district clerk shall provide a written notice to the county auditor of each county in which
the school district is located. The notice must include the date of the election, the offices to be
voted on at the election, and the title and language for each ballot question to be voted on at the
election. For the purposes of meeting the timelines of this section, in a bond election, a notice,
including a proposed question, may be provided to the county auditor prior to receipt of a review
and comment from the commissioner of education and prior to actual initiation of the election.
    Subd. 3a. Notice to commissioner of education. At least 49 days prior to every school
district election, under section 123B.62, 123B.63, 126C.17, 126C.69, or 475.58, the school
district clerk shall provide a written notice to the commissioner of education. The notice must
include the date of the election and the title and language for each ballot question to be voted on
at the election. The certified vote totals for each ballot question shall be provided in a written
notice to the commissioner in a timely manner.
    Subd. 3b. Notice to secretary of state. At least 46 days prior to every school district election
for which a notice is provided to the county auditor under subdivision 3, the county auditor shall
provide a notice of the election to the secretary of state, in a manner and including information
prescribed by the secretary of state.
    Subd. 4. No additional posting requirements. A school district is only required to comply
with the election posting requirements specified in the Minnesota Election Law and the education
code and is not required to comply with additional posting requirements specified in any other law.
History: 1987 c 266 art 1 s 54; 1989 c 291 art 1 s 21; 1990 c 453 s 13; 1991 c 227 s 23;
1Sp1995 c 3 art 16 s 13; 1999 c 132 s 36; 2003 c 130 s 12; 1Sp2003 c 9 art 1 s 49; 2004
c 293 art 2 s 40,41
205A.08 BALLOTS.
    Subdivision 1. Buff ballot. The names of all candidates for offices to be voted on at a school
district general election must be placed on a single ballot printed on buff paper and known as
the "buff ballot."
    Subd. 2. Primary ballots. The school district primary ballot must conform as far as
practicable with the school district general election ballot except that no blank spaces may be
provided for writing in the names of candidates.
    Subd. 3. Vacancies. The names of candidates to fill vacancies at a school district special
election held in conjunction with the primary or general election must be placed on the school
district primary and general election ballots. The names of candidates to fill a vacancy in the
office of school board member in a school district must be listed under the separate heading
"Special election for school board member to fill vacancy in term expiring ........," with the date of
expiration of the term and any other information necessary to distinguish the office.
    Subd. 4. Goldenrod ballots; questions. All questions relating to a proposition for the
issuance of bonds, and all other questions relating to school district affairs submitted at an election
to the voters of the school district, shall be printed on one separate goldenrod ballot and shall
be prepared, printed, and distributed under the direction of the school district clerk at the same
time and in the same manner as other school district ballots. The ballots, when voted, shall be
deposited in a separate goldenrod ballot box provided by the local authorities for each voting
precinct. The ballots shall be canvassed, counted, and returned in the same manner as other school
district ballots. The returns shall provide appropriate blank spaces for the counting, canvassing,
and return of the results of the questions submitted on the goldenrod ballot.
    Subd. 5. Form of ballot. The ballots for school district elections must be prepared by the
school district clerk in the manner provided in the rules of the secretary of state.
History: 1987 c 266 art 1 s 55; 1997 c 147 s 46
205A.09 VOTING HOURS.
    Subdivision 1. Metropolitan area school districts. At a school district election in a school
district located in whole or in part within a metropolitan county included in the definition of
metropolitan area in section 200.02, subdivision 24, the school board, by resolution adopted
before giving notice of the election, may designate the time during which the polling places will
remain open for voting at the next succeeding and all later school district elections. The polling
places must open no later than 10:00 a.m. and close no earlier than 8:00 p.m. The resolution shall
remain in force until it is revoked by the school board.
    Subd. 2. Other school districts. At a school district election in a school district other than
one described in subdivision 1, the school board, by resolution adopted before giving notice of the
election, may designate the time during which the polling places will remain open for voting at
the next succeeding and all later school district elections. All polling places must be open between
the hours of 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. The resolution must remain in force until it is revoked by the
school board or changed because of request by voters as provided in this subdivision. If a petition
requesting longer voting hours, signed by a number of voters equal to 20 percent of the votes cast
at the last school district election, is presented to the school district clerk no later than 30 days
before a school district election, then the polling places for that election must open at 10:00 a.m.
and close at 8:00 p.m. The school district clerk must give ten days' published notice and posted
notice of the changed voting hours and notify appropriate county auditors of the change.
History: 1987 c 266 art 1 s 56; 1990 c 453 s 14; 1994 c 646 s 21; 2005 c 156 art 6 s 55
205A.10 PROCEDURE.
    Subdivision 1. Materials, ballots. The school district clerk shall prepare and have printed
the necessary election materials, including ballots, for a school district election. The name of each
candidate for office shall be rotated with the names of the other candidates for the same office so
that the name of each candidate appears substantially an equal number of times at the top, at the
bottom, and at each intermediate place in the group of candidates for that office.
    Subd. 2. Election, conduct. A school district election must be by secret ballot and must
be held and the returns made in the manner provided for the state general election, as far as
practicable. The vote totals from an absentee ballot board established pursuant to section 203B.13
may be tabulated and reported by the school district as a whole rather than by precinct. For
school district elections not held in conjunction with a statewide election, the school board
shall appoint election judges as provided in section 204B.21, subdivision 2. The provisions of
sections 204B.19, subdivision 5; 204C.15; 204C.19; 206.64, subdivision 2; 206.83; and 206.86,
subdivision 2
, relating to party balance in appointment of judges and to duties to be performed
by judges of different major political parties do not apply to school district elections not held in
conjunction with a statewide election.
    Subd. 3. Canvass of returns, certificate of election, ballots, disposition. Within seven days
after a school district election other than a recount of a special election conducted under section
126C.17, subdivision 9, or 475.59, the school board shall canvass the returns and declare the
results of the election. After the time for contesting elections has passed, the school district clerk
shall issue a certificate of election to each successful candidate. If there is a contest, the certificate
of election to that office must not be issued until the outcome of the contest has been determined
by the proper court. If there is a tie vote, the school board shall determine the result by lot. The
clerk shall deliver the certificate of election to the successful candidate by personal service or
certified mail. The successful candidate shall file an acceptance and oath of office in writing
with the clerk within 30 days of the date of mailing or personal service. A person who fails to
qualify prior to the time specified shall be deemed to have refused to serve, but that filing may be
made at any time before action to fill the vacancy has been taken. The school district clerk shall
certify the results of the election to the county auditor, and the clerk shall be the final custodian
of the ballots and the returns of the election.
A school district canvassing board shall perform the duties of the school board according to
the requirements of this subdivision for a recount of a special election conducted under section
126C.17, subdivision 9, or 475.59.
    Subd. 4. Recount. A losing candidate at a school district election may request a recount of
the votes for that office subject to the requirements of section 204C.36.
    Subd. 5. School district canvassing board. For the purpose of a recount of a special election
conducted under section 126C.17, subdivision 9, or 475.59, the school district canvassing board
shall consist of one member of the school board other than the clerk, selected by the board,
the clerk of the school board, the county auditor of the county in which the greatest number of
school district residents reside, the court administrator of the district court of the judicial district
in which the greatest number of school district residents reside, and the mayor or chair of the
town board of the school district's most populous municipality. Any member of the canvassing
board may appoint a designee to appear at the meeting of the board, except that no designee may
be a candidate for public office. If one of the individuals fails to appear at the meeting of the
canvassing board, the county auditor shall appoint an eligible voter of the school district, who
must not be a member of the school board, to fill the vacancy. Not more than two school board
members shall serve on the canvassing board at one time. Four members constitute a quorum.
The school board shall serve as the school district canvassing board for the election of
school board members.
History: 1987 c 266 art 1 s 57; 1989 c 291 art 1 s 22-24; 1990 c 453 s 15,16; 1992 c 499 art
12 s 23; 1998 c 254 art 1 s 63; 1998 c 397 art 11 s 3
205A.11 PRECINCTS; POLLING PLACES.
    Subdivision 1. Established precincts. School district elections must be conducted in the
precincts, or when the school district boundary divides a precinct, parts of precincts that have
been established by the county or municipal governing bodies as provided in section 204B.14. If
an election other than the school district election is being held in any part of a precinct, all the
voters of the precinct must vote at the polling place designated for the precinct as provided
in section 204B.14.
    Subd. 2. Combined polling place. When no other election is being held in two or more
precincts on the day of a school district election, the school board may designate one or more
combined polling places at which the voters in those precincts may vote in the school district
election.
    Subd. 2a. Notice of special elections. The school district clerk shall prepare a notice to the
voters who will be voting in a combined polling place for a school district special election. The
notice must include the following information: the date of the election, the hours of voting, and
the location of the voter's polling place. The notice must be sent by nonforwardable mail to every
affected household in the school district with at least one registered voter. The notice must be
mailed no later than 14 days before the election. The mailed notice is not required for a school
district special election that is held on the day of the school district primary or general election,
the Tuesday following the second Monday in September, the Tuesday following the first Monday
in November, or for a special election conducted entirely by mail. In addition, the mailed notice
is not required for voters residing in a township if the school district special election is held on
the second Tuesday in March and the town general election is held on that day. A notice that is
returned as undeliverable must be forwarded immediately to the county auditor.
    Subd. 3. Procedure. The school board must notify the county auditor within 30 days after
the establishment of a polling place as provided in this section. The notice must include a list
of the precincts that will be voting at each polling place. The school board must send the notice
required by section 204B.16, subdivision 1a, after a polling place is established as provided in this
section, but no additional notices of this kind are required for any subsequent similar elections
until the location of the polling place or the combination of precincts voting at the polling place is
changed. The secretary of state shall provide a single polling place roster for use in any polling
place established as provided in this section. A single set of election judges must be appointed
to serve in the polling place. The number of election judges required must be based on the total
number of persons voting at the last similar election in all the precincts to be voting at the single
polling place. A single ballot box may be provided for all the ballots.
History: 1987 c 266 art 1 s 58; 1990 c 453 s 17; 1994 c 607 s 6; 1995 c 8 s 7,8
205A.12 SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION DISTRICTS.
    Subdivision 1. General provisions. Any independent school district may alter its
organization into separate election districts for the purpose of election of board members by
following the procedures in this section.
    Subd. 2. Election. Except in a school district located wholly or partly within a city of the
first class, upon resolution of the board, made on its own motion or on presentation of a petition
substantially in the form required in section 205A.13, signed by at least 50 electors of the district
or ten percent of the number of votes cast in the most recent regular school board election,
whichever is larger, the board shall adopt a proposal to divide the district into separate election
districts. The proposal must designate one of the following options for election of members:
single-member districts, from which one board member each must be elected; multimember
districts, from which two or three members each must be elected; a combination of single-member
and multimember districts; or a combination of single-member or multimember districts, or both,
and election of one or more members at large. The proposal must be submitted to an election
under this chapter. If the election is initiated by petition, the resolution calling the election must
be adopted within six months after the date of receipt of the petition. Only one election within any
two-year period may be held under this section.
    Subd. 3. Ballot question. The question presented at the special election shall be: "Shall the
school district be reorganized into election districts with boundaries as established in Resolution
No. .... of the school board, dated ..........?
Yes .....
No ..... "
    Subd. 4. Election district boundaries. Each proposed election district must be as equal in
population as practicable and must be composed of compact, contiguous territory. The district
may utilize the most recent federal decennial census figures available or may conduct a special
census for this purpose. The board shall designate each election district by number.
    Subd. 5. Board elections. If the proposal for the establishment of election districts is
approved by the voters, the board shall specify the election districts from which vacancies shall
be filled as they occur until such time as each board member represents an election district. A
candidate for school board in a subsequent election must file an affidavit of candidacy to be
elected as a school board member for the election district in which the candidate resides. If there
are as many election districts as there are members of the board, one and only one member of the
board shall be elected from each election district. In school districts where one or more board
members are elected by election districts, candidates must indicate on the affidavit of candidacy
the number of the district from which they seek election or, if appropriate, that they seek election
from one of the offices elected at large. If the election districts have two or three members each,
the terms of the members must be staggered. Each board member must be a resident of the
election district for which elected but the creation of an election district or a change in election
district boundaries shall not disqualify a board member from serving for the remainder of a term.
    Subd. 6. Redefining election district boundaries. The school board may by resolution
redefine district boundaries after a school district general election. The board shall hold a public
hearing on the proposed resolution before its adoption. One week's published notice of the hearing
must be given. After the official certification of the federal decennial or special census, the school
board shall either confirm the existing election district boundaries as conforming to the standards
of subdivision 4 or redefine election district boundaries to conform to those standards as provided
in section 204B.135, subdivision 2. If the school board fails to take either action within the time
required, no further compensation may be paid to the school board members until the districts
are either reconfirmed or redefined as required by this section. A resolution establishing election
district boundaries pursuant to section 204B.135, subdivision 2, becomes effective on the date of
the state primary election in the year ending in two. Election district boundaries established at
other times become effective 90 days after the adoption of the resolution.
    Subd. 7. Dissolution of election districts. The governing body of a school district that enters
into a consolidation or cooperation and combination agreement may, by resolution, dissolve
election districts previously established as provided in this section as part of the consolidation or
cooperation and combination plan. The resolution must include a plan for the orderly transition to
at-large elections of school board members.
History: 1987 c 266 art 1 s 59; 1991 c 349 s 39; 1995 c 8 s 9; 1996 c 394 s 3,4
205A.13 REQUIREMENTS FOR PETITIONS.
Any petition to a school board authorized in this chapter or sections 126C.17, 126C.40,
126C.41 to 126C.48, and 124D.22, or any other law which requires the board to submit an issue
to referendum or election, shall meet the requirements provided in section 204B.071.
History: 1987 c 266 art 1 s 60; 1991 c 130 s 37; 1992 c 499 art 12 s 29; 1996 c 305 art 1 s
55; 1998 c 397 art 11 s 3; 1999 c 132 s 37