Elections bill passes; allows paid time off to vote in local elections

Legislators have passed an elections bill that would give employees paid time off to vote in regularly scheduled local elections, even when they don’t coincide with state and federal elections.

The law already requires paid time off to vote in state and federal elections, but that are times, like this November, when there are only city elections in some places. Those will be included now, if Gov. Mark Dayton signs the bill.

Other parts of the elections law, according to the House Public Information Services, would:

  • remove a section of law that requires county attorneys to automatically proceed with prosecutions of alleged voter fraud if a complaint or evidence is brought forward, instead allowing them to proceed with investigations and prosecutions according to normal standards of law
  • allow statutory cities to set their own candidate filing fees
  • include Minnesota National Guard members under special voting procedures for members of the military and other citizens residing overseas
  • allow the children of residents living permanently overseas to vote in Minnesota elections if a parent resided in the state prior to leaving the country
  • conform technical aspects of existing election law to general state statute requiring Minnesota’s presidential electors to the Electoral College to cast their vote for president and vice-president for the candidates to whom they are pledged
  • update language relating to voting booths and ballot marking procedure
  • allow absentee voters to return their own ballot, in person, on Election Day
  • provide a more specific deadline for candidates to make a written request for a publicly-funded recount in a federal or state election. Current law requires a request be made within 48 hours of the election results being canvassed; that would be changed to a deadline of 5 p.m. on the second day after the canvass
  • change policy governing vacancies in contests for partisan office by not opening a new filing period if a candidate withdraws during the 48-hour withdrawal period after filing for office
  • permit high school students to serve as trainee election judges in any county adjacent to their home county, not just the county in which they live.

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