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Elections Canvassing Board to notify candidates of error resulting in 318 unprocessed absentee ballots

The Ramsey County Elections Canvassing Board convened in an emergency meeting today and, following Minnesota state law, voted to affirm that an ‘obvious error’ in recording votes by Ramsey County elections judges occurred in the 2020 General Election. The error resulted in a total of 318 absentee ballots that were cast on Saturday, Oct. 31 at the Ramsey County Elections Office location not being processed or counted. The Canvassing Board is now notifying 131 candidates affected by the error.

The error was discovered on Nov. 13 as part of the Post-Election Review process. Elections staff came upon one sealed box of absentee ballots unprocessed and sealed in signature envelopes. The box was properly labeled as requiring processing but had been misplaced in an area of a secure storage facility designated for sealed boxes of processed ballots. It was further determined that the box was misplaced on Oct. 31 while statutory emergency procedures were in place during a period when the statewide voter registration system was inaccessible. No other errors have been identified in the Post-Election Review Process.

All ballots remain sealed within the signature envelopes. Based on the precinct locations identified on the signature envelopes of the 318 absentee ballots, it does not appear possible that the outcome of any election contest in Ramsey County could be altered by these ballots alone.

Under state law, the calendar window for an elections office to process absentee ballots under regular processing procedures has passed. An affected candidate notified by the Canvassing Board may now apply to district court. If the court finds that an error was made, it could issue an order further directing the actions of the Canvasing Board to process the ballots and certify the new total.

At their meeting, Canvassing Board members affirmed their wish that every vote legally cast should be counted and directed staff to expeditiously issue communications to candidates explaining the error and notifying them of their right to apply to district court.

View the video of the Canvassing Board meeting

297,159 Ramsey County voters cast ballots in in the 2020 General Election. 103,614 were cast in person on Election Day and 193,545 were absentee or early votes (unofficial results).

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Posted on Wednesday, November 18, 2020 - 12:43 p.m.