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A1: The council should declare a vacancy by resolution before appointing a new member. Some cities advertise the opening, require an application, or ask for letters of interest. Other cities make the appointment more informally based on who they know is interested in the position. Under certain circumstances, individuals appointed to fill council vacancies serve on a temporary basis, and the city must hold a special election to elect a permanent replacement to fill the vacancy.
A2: If you’re a statutory city you must hold a special election to fill a vacancy on the council when both of the following circumstances are true:
- The vacancy happened before the first day to file affidavits of candidacy for the next regular city election.
- There are more than two years remaining in the unexpired term.
You can check the Calendar of Important Dates to determine these cutoffs. If the vacancy occurs on or after the first day to file affidavits of candidacy or when less than two years remain in the unexpired term, state law does not require a special election to fill the vacancy.
A3: City councils and other local governing bodies cannot hold any meetings between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on the day of any election within their boundaries. They cannot hold meetings after 6 p.m. on the day of a state precinct caucus, either.
A4: The best practice approach is to pay election workers as employees, not as independent contractors.
- Compensation paid to an election worker is not subject to federal income tax withholding (Internal Revenue Code 3401(a) and Treasury Regulation 31.3401(a)).
- If the employee will meet the threshold of $2000, then FICA taxes are due on all wages and must be reported on Form W-2.
- Government entities must file a Form W-2 for election workers who receive payments of $600 or more, even if no FICA and income tax were withheld.
- Internal Revenue Code Section 3402(p) allows employers and employees to enter into voluntary agreements to withhold income tax from wages for services performed. Election workers may request this voluntary income tax withholding by completing and giving the employer a Form W-4.
A5: A city with fewer than 400 registered voters may hold elections by mail by adopting a resolution no later than 90 days prior to the first election at which they wish to use mail balloting. The resolution remains in effect for all elections until revoked.
A6: Yes! Chapter 5 of the Handbook for Minnesota Cities covers what you need to know, including ballot requirements, training election judges, and campaign signs.