May 20, 2019

By Attorney Maria Brownell

Two bills affecting local elections take effect on July 1, 2019. House File 566, which was signed into law on May 11, 2017 ("2017 law"), and House File 692, which was signed into law on May 16, 2019 ("2019 law"), include changes to election dates and the administration of local elections.

Special Election Dates
Effective July 1, 2019, special election dates in both odd and even-numbered years have changed. The Secretary of State recently issued guidance regarding the status of certain dates in 2019 due to the timing of the law change. The following special election dates remain for 2019: 

  • June 25 (schools only)
  • August 6 (counties and cities who file before July 1)
  • September 10 (counties, cities and schools)
  • November 5 (counties, cities and schools

For election years after 2019, special elections for cities, counties, and school districts may be held according to the following schedule:

  • In odd-numbered years, the first Tuesday in March, the second Tuesday in September, or the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
  • In even-numbered years, the first Tuesday in March or the second Tuesday in September. Note that as a result of this change, cities and counties may no longer hold special elections on public measures on the day of the general election, which is November in even-numbered years.

The 2017 law also changed regular school district elections from the second Tuesday in September to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in odd-numbered years, beginning with elections held on or after November 5, 2019. 

Administration of Local Elections
Both the 2017 law and the 2019 law make changes to the administration of elections. In cities or school districts located in more than one county, the county auditor of each county in which a portion of the city or school district calling an election is located must conduct the election within that county. For example, each county auditor will be required to publish a Notice of Election and form of ballot for elections instead of the current practice of one county auditor publishing those documents one time for the election. The new law designates a "controlling commissioner" as the auditor of the county with the greatest taxable base within the political subdivision in which the election has been called. The controlling commissioner is delegated oversight and administrative responsibilities, including certification of the ballots and election results, serving as the designated filing office for nomination papers and public measures, and conducting canvasses. 

For community colleges, canvassing is now required on the Monday or Tuesday after the election for counties whose commissioner of elections is responsible for conducting elections for a merged area. In addition, dates for filing objections to the legal sufficiency of nomination petitions or eligibility of a candidate have been amended from thirty-five to forty-two days before the date of the board election in a merged area.

This is only a summary of the changes made by House File 566 and House File 692. If you have questions about the impact of either of the new laws or about this Client Alert, please contact the author or any member of the Ahlers & Cooney Public Finance Practice Group.

About Ahlers & Cooney's Client Alerts
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