May 1 is the deadline for the state party to submit names of those who are willing to be Election judges for the August primary and November general elections.
Election judges are the backbone of our election system. Any individual who is eligible to vote in this state is qualified to be appointed as an election judge. Election judges are paid officials who staff local polling places, absentee ballot boards, and all early voting venues, to ensure that the ballots and rights of voters are protected.
Minnesota Voters Alliance has been publicizing that election judges in even-numbered years are hired/assigned differently than in years when non-partisan elections are held. In order to maximize your chances of being selected as an election judge (or a poll challenger) in your precinct, it is absolutely critical that you sign up through your political party in 2020, even if you’ve recently served as an election judge.
Why do I need to sign up through my political party?
The Minnesota Legislature has created a system for selecting election judges in even years, such as 2020, that is different from the one used for “odd year” municipal elections.
In even years, in which we have “partisan elections”, the law requires that election judges be selected from the lists submitted to the Secretary of State by the political parties. Minnesota Statute 204B.21 requires that in a year in which there is an election for partisan political office, such as 2020, “each major political party shall prepare a list of eligible voters to act as election judges in EACH precinct”, and submit to the Secretary of State by May 1st.
The law also requires appointing authorities to select election judges from the lists received from the political parties first, before appointing others. This means that if a person signs up through the Secretary of State’s office, or at their local election office, their chances of being selected for 2020 are limited or eliminated.
In addition, failing to sign up through your political party also negatively impacts your party’s ability to verify whether or not the Secretary of State is complying with the “Party Balance Requirement’ for election judges found in 204B.19, Subd 5.
Poll Challengers: this is an unpaid, volunteer role. The Secretary of State site describes the limitations here. Training will be provided by MN GOP. You must be on the list submitted by your party before election day to be a poll challenger.