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Avoiding ballot confusion is genesis of bill awaiting action by full House

If the 2020 election is any indication, before voters go to the polls this November they will receive myriad political mailings.

"Everybody I talked to was blown away at the number of pieces of mail that went into their district from organizations on both sides of the aisle trying to get someone to fill out an absentee ballot request form, and saying, ‘(They) got me to fill out my absentee ballot,'" said Rep. Jim Nash (R-Waconia).

He offers HF2857 to eliminate some potential voter confusion among the masses.

Approved 12-0 Friday by the House State Government Finance and Elections Committee, the bill, as amended, would require committees and private organizations that mail absentee ballot applications or sample ballots to include several notifications, including “NOT AN OFFICIAL BALLOT” and “THIS IS NOT AN OFFICIAL COMMUNICATION FROM A UNIT OF GOVERNMENT” on the outside of the mailing.

House State Government Finance and Elections Committee 3/11/22

An amendment provides further clarification of what’s a “sample ballot;” a second amendment provides more technical specification.

“We’re trying to avoid confusion by simply saying mark the exterior of the envelope that this is not from a unit of government, this is from pick-your-favorite-organization here and that this is not an actual ballot,” Nash told the committee Feb. 15.

Representatives from the Minnesota Association of County Officers, Association of Minnesota Counties and League of Minnesota Cities submitted a letter backing the bill.

The current system, it states, “can result in a voter questioning why they have inefficiently received multiple communications from local units of government and wondering if there is a flaw in the election administration process.

“The quantity of absentee ballot application and sample ballot mailings from 2020 resulted in a high volume of calls and emails to election administrators. While administrators enthusiastically answer questions to clear up confusion and/or anger, administrators prefer to avoid voter confusion/anger in the first place.”

Sponsored by Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake), SF3077, the companion bill, awaits action by the Senate State Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee.

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