The Dakota County Elections Canvassing Board convened an emergency meeting Friday, Nov. 20 and in accordance with Minnesota law voted to affirm an “obvious error" in the reporting of absentee ballots from the City of Lakeville in the 2020 General Election. The error resulted in a total of 1,093 absentee ballots being counted but not reported in the results certified by the Dakota County Elections Canvassing Board on Nov. 12. No contest or outcomes will change with the addition of these ballots.
The error was discovered on Nov. 19 as part of the State's preparation for its Canvassing Board meeting. Through its analysis, the state detected that the statistics for these precincts were not what they expected, so they notified Dakota County Elections, who immediately investigated and identified the error. Normally, the results of absentee ballots cast in cities are transferred to Dakota County Elections, which processes and then reports the results to the Minnesota Secretary of State's Office as well as the county website. Human error in the transfer of that data resulted in the ballots not being reported in the canvassed total. No other errors have been identified.
The determination of the error by the Dakota County Elections Canvassing Board is the first step under the law to provide a remedy. Under state law, the time permitted for absentee ballots to be reported under regular processing procedures has passed.
This process allows for any candidate to file a petition with the court to request that the votes on these ballots are reported and applied to the total votes in the election. Lakeville Council Member Luke Hellier is already working to file that petition with the First District Court. The county is supporting this effort. If the court finds that an “obvious error" was made, it could issue an order further directing the actions of the Canvassing Board to report the results and certify the new total.
Canvassing Board members on Nov. 20 expressed the importance that all legally casted votes be counted. County staff expeditiously communicated to candidates explaining the error and notifying them of their right to apply to district court.