State Audit Laws Searchable Database

State Audit Laws - Minnesota

This information was updated in March 2017.

State Summary:

Signed into law in 2004, Minnesota's statutes refer to their audit as a "post-election review." The audit is both binding upon the official election results and can lead to a full recount.  Minn. Stat. Ann. §206.89(2a) provides that "No review is required under this section if the election for the office will be subject to a recount as provided in section §204C.35, subdivision 1".  Unless otherwise noted, all citations below are to Minn. Stat. Ann. §206.89, "Post-election Review of Voting Systems".

Transparency:

No statutory guidance allowing observers to verify ballot marks
Statutes require that audit results and data be made public
Statutes specify that audits must be conducted publicly

The audit must be conducted publicly. See Minn. Stat. Ann. §206.89 (3).

Publishing audit results is governed by the Data Practices Act, Minn. Stat. Ann. §13.01. More specifically, the 2016 Post-Election Review Guide, page 22, states that "The OSS will post individual precinct results from the post-election review at the Post-Election review webpage" located here.

Audits are required to follow the same rules established for recounts, which allow for candidates to appoint observers who are allowed to verify marks on the ballot. See Minn. Stat. Ann. §206.89(3) and Rule 8235.0800.

Voting Systems Used:

Paper ballot

Precinct-count optical scanners and ballot marking devices used statewide. For details visit the Minnesota page on The Verifier.

Binding:

Audit results binding upon official results

See Minn. Stat. Ann. §206.89 (7).

Addressing Discrepancies and Continuing the Audit:

Statutes specify criteria to expand the audit (up to a full recount)

"If the post-election review in one of the reviewed precincts reveals a difference greater than one-half of one percent, or greater than two votes in a precinct where 400 or fewer voters cast ballots, the post-election review official must, within two days, conduct an additional review of the races indicated in subdivision 3 in at least three precincts in the same jurisdiction where the discrepancy was discovered." See Minn. Stat. Ann. §206.89 (5) (a).

"If the second review in any of the reviewed precincts also indicates a difference in the vote totals compiled by the voting system that is greater than one-half of one percent from the result indicated by the post-election review, or greater than two votes in a precinct where 400 or fewer voters cast ballots, the county auditor must conduct a review of the ballots from all the remaining precincts in the county for the races indicated in subdivision 3." See Minn. Stat. Ann. §206.89 (5) (a).

"If the results from the countywide reviews from one or more counties comprising in the aggregate more than ten percent of the total number of persons voting in the election clearly indicate that an error in vote counting has occurred, the secretary of state must notify the post-election review official of each county in the district that they must conduct manual recounts of all the ballots in the district for the affected office using the procedure outlined in section 204C.35." See Minn. Stat. Ann. §206.89 (5) (b).

Audit Comprehensiveness:

Absentee ballots included in audit
Ballots counted by hand on election day included in the audit
Early voted ballots included in audit

"The ballots to be reviewed for a precinct include both the ballots counted at the polling place for that precinct and the absentee ballots counted centrally by a ballot board for that precinct." See Minn. Stat. Ann. §206.89 (2). There is no language in Minnesota's statutes restricting the audit at any precinct to votes cast on machines. See Minn. Stat. Ann. §206.89 (2).

Additional Targeted Samples:

Election officials may choose additional targeted samples

"If the selection of precincts has not resulted in the selection of at least four precincts in each congressional district, the secretary of state may require counties to select by lot additional precincts" to be audited.  See Minn. Stat. Ann. §206.89 (2).

In addition, Minn. Stat. Ann. §206.88 states that the "secretary of state may conduct a recount to verify the accuracy of vote counting and recording in one or more precincts in which an electronic voting system was used in the election."

Contests and Issues Audited:

Federal election contests audited
Predetermined election contests or ballot issues are audited
Statewide election contests audited

Contests for the governor's office, United States' congressional and senate contests, and presidential contests must all be audited when they occur. Additional contests may be audited at the discretion of election officials. The audit is required for state general elections only. See Minn. Stat. Ann. §206.89 (3).

Type of Audit Units:

Precincts/districts

The number of precincts to be audited varies by the number of registered voters in the county. In the smallest counties, at least two precincts must be counted, and at least one precinct must have at least 150 votes cast in the election. In the largest counties, at least four precincts per county, or 3% of the precincts, whichever is greater, must be audited. See Minn. Stat. Ann. §206.89 (2).

Counting Method:

Hand count

See Minn. Stat. Ann. §206.89 (3). County election officials are required to follow the counting method described in Minn. Stat. Ann. §204C.21. 

Oversight and Conduct of Audit: The audit is overseen by the Secretary of State, and conducted by county election officials. The random selection is conducted by the county canvassing board.

Timeline for Audit:  See Minn. Stat. Ann. §206.89 (3) and (5).

Additional Resources:


Minnesota Statutes - Chapters 204-212 - Elections
Minnesota Secretary of State
2014 Recount Guide
2014 Post Election Review Guide



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