A very important service that our City government provides is administering elections.

Our City Clerk, Kitty Porta, is the point person and the leader of all-things elections in Eden Prairie. She does an excellent job of overseeing all facets of the election process including: election judge staffing and training; managing election equipment; providing for polling places; and much much more. She would say that each election is a big deal — whether it involves the President of the United States, the Governor, a U.S. Senator, a state representative, or an Eden Prairie City Council member. However, some elections are bigger events than others. The fact is that there are many more people voting in a presidential election, which creates the local need for more time, money and energy. voting booth

Our City works closely with Hennepin County in conducting our elections. We would consider ourselves partners. For example, next year will be another Presidential election year and there are a number of changes on the horizon where the City and County will need to work together. I will highlight three of those areas below by sharing a communication that our City received from the Hennepin County Assistant Administrator-

Absentee Voting

With the advent of “no-excuse” absentee voting in 2014, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of absentee ballots in Hennepin County, increasing the burden on cities to process these ballots.

To relieve cities of some of this burden, Hennepin County will begin processing all mail absentee ballots in 2016, including processing mail absentee requests, sending and receiving mail ballots, accepting and rejecting mail ballots, and counting and reporting mail ballot results.

This will allow city elections staffs to focus on in-person absentee activity and prepare for Election Day. Cities will still be in-person absentee balloting locations and conduct health care facility absentee balloting, as in the past, and will need to administer their own Absentee Ballot Boards for those ballots.

Roll of "I voted" stickers for early voters at the Eustis Memorial Library.Electronic Poll Books

In 2014, the state legislature authorized the use of electronic poll books. These devices are secure tablet or laptop computers that replace the current paper voter check-in process. Hennepin County plans to implement these devices in polling places in 2016. These will:

  • Speed up lines at the polls
  • Help election judges through each step of the process, including election day registration
  • Allow instantaneous absentee ballot updates to be received wirelessly
  • Provide cities data on polling place activity and Election Judge performance
  • Enable cities to hire fewer election judges eventually by making polling places more efficient

The most successful vendor proposals will be tested in a live election this fall. After an early 2016 purchase, Hennepin County will train cities and provide training materials for election judges. Cities will then store the devices, prepare them for Election Day, and train election judges on their use.

 Election Judge Training

Hennepin County is working to make the task of training election judges easier by creating an online election judge training portal. The portal will allow cities to upload their own training content and election judges to sign in and view training from anywhere. The portal is planned to be ready for use in the first quarter of 2016. It will:

  • Allow cities to continue delivering their own training and share material with each other easily
  • Track when election judges have completed training courses
  • Provide an easy way to deliver last-minute training to replacement judges
  • Enable election judges to refresh themselves by reviewing completed courses at any time
  • Reduce the amount of time city staff spend delivering in-person training sessions

The use of the portal is completely optional, and cities can choose for themselves how it fits with their training plans. Hennepin County will provide information on what has worked well in other jurisdictions to help guide the city in its decisions. Cities will still need to develop their own training materials and presentations for uploading to the portal and will still need to perform any necessary in-person election judge training.