A town of any size not located in a metropolitan county as defined by section 473.121, or a city having fewer than 400 registered voters on June 1 of an election year and not located in a metropolitan county as defined by section 473.121, may provide balloting by mail at any municipal, county, or state election with no polling place other than the office of the auditor or clerk or other locations designated by the auditor or clerk. The governing body may apply to the county auditor for permission to conduct balloting by mail. The county board may provide for balloting by mail in unorganized territory. The governing body of any municipality may designate for mail balloting any precinct having fewer than 100 registered voters, subject to the approval of the county auditor.
Voted ballots may be returned in person to any location designated by the county auditor or municipal clerk.
Notice of the election and the special mail procedure must be given at least ten weeks prior to the election. Not more than 46 days nor later than 14 days before a regularly scheduled election and not more than 30 days nor later than 14 days before any other election, the auditor shall mail ballots by nonforwardable mail to all voters registered in the town or unorganized territory. No later than 14 days before the election, the auditor must make a subsequent mailing of ballots to those voters who register to vote after the initial mailing but before the 20th day before the election. Eligible voters not registered at the time the ballots are mailed may apply for ballots as provided in chapter 203B. Ballot return envelopes, with return postage provided, must be preaddressed to the auditor or clerk and the voter may return the ballot by mail or in person to the office of the auditor or clerk. The auditor or clerk must appoint a ballot board to examine the mail and absentee ballot return envelopes and mark them "accepted" or "rejected" within three days of receipt if there are 14 or fewer days before election day, or within five days of receipt if there are more than 14 days before election day. The board may consist of deputy county auditors or deputy municipal clerks who have received training in the processing and counting of mail ballots, who need not be affiliated with a major political party. Election judges performing the duties in this section must be of different major political parties, unless they are exempt from that requirement under section 205.075, subdivision 4, or section 205A.10. If an envelope has been rejected at least five days before the election, the ballots in the envelope must remain sealed and the auditor or clerk shall provide the voter with a replacement ballot and return envelope in place of the spoiled ballot. If the ballot is rejected within five days of the election, the envelope must remain sealed and the official in charge of the ballot board must attempt to contact the voter by telephone or e-mail to notify the voter that the voter's ballot has been rejected. The official must document the attempts made to contact the voter.
If the ballot is accepted, the county auditor or municipal clerk must mark the roster to indicate that the voter has already cast a ballot in that election. After the close of business on the fourth day before the election, the ballots from return envelopes marked "Accepted" may be opened, duplicated as needed in the manner provided by section 206.86, subdivision 5, initialed by the members of the ballot board, and deposited in the ballot box.
In all other respects, the provisions of the Minnesota Election Law governing deposit and counting of ballots apply.
The mail and absentee ballots for a precinct must be counted together and reported as one vote total. No vote totals from mail or absentee ballots may be made public before the close of voting on election day.
The costs of the mailing shall be paid by the election jurisdiction in which the voter resides. Any ballot received by 8:00 p.m. on the day of the election must be counted.
The Minnesota Election Law is applicable to mail balloting except as provided by this section or by rules adopted by the secretary of state, but only paper ballots may be used. The secretary of state shall adopt rules for the conduct of mail balloting, including instructions to voters, procedures for challenge of voters, public observation of the counting of ballots, and procedures for proper handling and safeguarding of ballots to ensure the integrity of the election.