Minnesota Audit Information

This information was updated in June, 2014.

State Summary

 

Signed into law in 2004, Minnesota's statutes refer to their audit as a “postelection review.” The audit is both binding upon the official election results and can lead to a full recount.  Note that Minnesota Statute (MS) 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 Section 206.89 of the Minnesota Revised Statutes, “Postelection Review of Voting Systems”: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=206.89.

Transparency: 

Statutes specify that audits must be conducted publicly

Statutes require that audit results and data be made public

No statutory guidance allowing observers to verify ballot marks

 

The audit must be conducted publicly. See MS 206.89 (3).

 

Publishing audit results is governed by the Data Practices Act, chapter 13. More specifically, the 2012 Post-Election Review Guide, page 16, states that "The OSS will post individual precinct results from the post-election review at www.sos.state.mn.us." The 2012 post-election review report can be found 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 MS 206.89(3)  and Rule 8235.0800.

Voting Systems Used: 

Paper ballot (optical scanners, hand counted paper ballots, or a mix)

 

For more details, visit Verified Voting.  

Binding: 

Audit results binding upon official results

 

See MS 206.89 (7).

Addressing Discrepancies and Continuing the Audit: 

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

 

“If the postelection 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 postelection 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 MS 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 postelection 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 MS 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 postelection 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 MS 206.89 (5) (b)

Audit Comprehensiveness: 

Early voted ballots included in audit
Absentee ballots included in audit
Ballots counted by hand on election day included in the 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 MS 206.89 (2). There is no language in Minnesota's statutes restricting the audit at any precinct to votes cast on machines. See MS 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 MS 206.89 (2).

 

In addition, MS 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: 

Predetermined election contests or ballot issues are audited

Statewide election contests audited

Federal 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 MS 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 MS 206.89 (2).

Counting Method: 

Hand count only

See MS 206.89 (3). 

 

County election officials are required to follow the counting method described in MS 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 MS 206.89 (3) and MS 206.89 (5).