Brown County Browser: Election issues being considered in the county

Brown County Browser

A bill signed by Governor Dayton on May 30 created a $7 million grant fund to replace aging election equipment. This piece of legislation provides up to 50 percent match between state and local governments for mandatory equipment and up to 75 percent match for electronic poll books. The funds allocated by the Legislature did not provide adequate funding to replace all the election equipment in the State of Minnesota. The Secretary of State indicated that the grant would be sufficient to provide $1,700 for each precinct in the State. That being said, Brown County can anticipate a grant in the amount of $54,400.

The costs of setting up a polling site with the required equipment is approximately $10,000. With 32 precincts in Brown County that would have required an investment of $320,000.

To insure that the taxpayers of Brown County garner the greatest benefit from this grant, we are researching multiple opportunities allowed within Statute. Combining precincts is one opportunity that we are currently exploring. Absentee/early voting has changed the numbers of voters who go to the polls on Election Day, so it is felt that this combination of precincts will not disrupt the voting process.

Mail ballot is another opportunity for the county to contain the costs of purchasing equipment. Currently we have nine precincts that will be using this voting method in the 2018 election. Cost savings to the townships are truly measurable when considering the training of election judges, manning the polls in addition to the mandatory publications.

When making decisions on the future direction for elections, we need to consider that in 2016 the legislature passed a law moving Minnesota to a presidential primary system beginning in 2020. The rules for conducting this election are still being considered, but we need to think about how that may affect the decisions we make regarding equipment.

The largest policy change made by the Legislature is a new reform to special elections in Minnesota. The new reform creates five uniform dates throughout the calendar year when a special election in Minnesota is allowed to be held to fill a vacancy in local elections or for ballot questions. These five dates include:

The second Tuesday in February

The second Tuesday in April

The second Tuesday in May

The second Tuesday in August

The second Tuesday AFTER the first Monday in November.

Keeping our professional habits the same year after year will create stagnation. That is why we continue to reevaluate what we are doing and why.

We are open to discussion regarding these election topics. Written comments, questions, and requests for additional information on these proposed changes should be directed to