Absentee Ballot Timelines Could Be Expanded

February 28, 2022

A bill would extend the time frame for processing and in-person casting of absentee ballots.

HF 1815, a bill that would allow more time for certain aspects of absentee balloting, was heard by the House State Government Finance and Elections Committee on Feb. 25.

The bill, authored by Rep. Ginny Klevorn (DFL-Plymouth), would extend the time frame from seven to 14 days before an election:

  • For election administrators to open and process accepted absentee ballots.
  • For voters to cast in-person absentee ballots and place them directly into a ballot counter.

The committee passed the bill on a vote of 8-5 and moved it to the general register for floor consideration. The Senate companion, SF 1933 (Sen. Greg Clauson, DFL-Apple Valley), has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

Secretary of state supports bill

Secretary of State Steve Simon spoke in support of the bill, highlighting the popularity of direct balloting for both voters and election administrators. He said it increases efficiency and instills voter confidence.

Simon also spoke about the importance of expanding the time frame in which election administrators can process absentee ballots because of the increase in absentee voters in recent years. He said 24% of Minnesota voters used absentee voting in 2018 and 58% in 2020.

A two-week time frame was temporarily allowed in the 2020 election in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it would significantly help administrators in processing the higher volume of absentee votes, Simon said.

He noted that this bill would impact the “claw back” period, in which voters that submit absentee ballots can pull back their vote before it is processed. Once absentee ballots begin to be processed, absentee voters can no longer claw back their vote.

City support for bill

Former Plymouth Elections Clerk Sandy Engdahl also testified in support of the bill, stating that it will help ensure that election results remain timely.

The League submitted joint written testimony in support of the bill in partnership with the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC). Other written testimony in support of the bill was submitted by the Minnesota Association of County Officers (MACO).

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