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Election conferees reach agreement on policy, budget provisions

The votes were cast Friday afternoon. The result is an agreement on elections policy and budget provisions.

However, it is not yet official because nonpartisan staff have been charged with incorporating adopted amendments and other technical changes into the final product before the elections policy conference committee signs the agreement.

Rep. Mike Freiberg (DFL-Golden Valley) and Sen. Jim Carlson (DFL-Eagan) are the respective sponsors of HF4772, a policy bill that, per leadership instruction, also includes fiscal changes.

The supplemental General Fund spending target for elections is $500,000 in fiscal year 2025; however, more funds are available due to some internal transfers and modifying 2021 and 2023 laws.

A voting operations, technology, and election resources account that assists local governments with certain election-related expenses would receive an additional $3 million in fiscal year 2024 and $3.09 million in fiscal year 2025.

[MORE: View the spreadsheet, amended budget language]

The agreement calls for a $144,000 transfer to the Voting Rights Act cost sharing account in the special revenue fund — money that could be used by local governments if the “Minnesota Voting Rights Act” becomes law — and $70,000 in one-time funds would go to the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board: $50,000 for campaign treasurer training and $20,000 to notify local governments and update their systems to accept disclosures in local spending by political committees and funds.

The board is ordered to study and make recommendations related to lobbying of state government officials versus local government officials. A report would be due the Legislature by Jan. 15, 2025.

The agreement would require designation of an additional polling place for at least one day on a postsecondary institution campus that provides on-campus housing to at least 100 students, if requested by the institution or the student government organization.

As amended to help allay concerns of additional costs for local elections administrators, the agreement would require the Office of the Secretary of State to reimburse up to $5,000 for one polling location the first year (and an additional $3,000 for each additional polling place) and $3,000 in subsequent years.

The office would receive $200,000 in fiscal year 2025 for this purpose, $40,000 in fiscal year 2026 and each even-numbered year thereafter, $110,000 in fiscal year 2027 and ensuing odd-numbered years.

The agreement calls for establishing the “Minnesota Voting Rights Act” that, as amended, would prohibit state voting standards that deny or limit any citizen’s right to vote based on their race, color or language. Examples could include insufficient polling places, redistricting plans that “pack” persons of color to weaken their voting strength, and lack of language assistance for voters whose first language is not English. It would also ensure a private right of action and allow both sides a way to work together to rectify a problem without going to court.

[MORE: View the original side-by-side]

Other provisions in the final agreement include:

  • an appointment to fill a vacancy on a school board that occurs less than two years prior to the expiration of the term is valid for the remainder of the unexpired term with no special election required, unless the vacancy begins after candidate filing begins in the year preceding the end of the term;
  • prohibiting certain types of “deepfake” advertisements in a campaign;
  • letting a county board call for a special election to fill a sheriff or county attorney vacancy;
  • beginning with the 2030 census, state and federal prisoners would count as residing where they come from rather than the correctional facility;
  • allowing a statutory city to elect city council members by ward in certain circumstances;
  • providing legislative findings related to historical discrimination practices in Minnesota, and a public policy statement affirming that it is state policy to encourage participation in the elective franchise by all eligible voters;
  • counties and cities that administer elections must use a .gov domain website;
  • amending the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board’s authority to impose late filing fees;
  • with limited exceptions, prohibits making information from the public voter information list available on the internet on a list or database and from selling or providing access to information from the list; and
  • expanding the scope of “doxing” crimes as they apply to election officials, law enforcement officials, and the family members and household members of both types of officials.

Freiberg noted three amendments successfully added by Republicans on the House Floor are in the agreement: requiring the secretary of state’s office use the Social Security Death Index for updating voter registrations; requiring candidates to present proof of residence when filing for office; and a candidate's principal campaign committee couldn’t accept a loan from the candidate if the loan must be repaid with interest.


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