Election results are not official until they have been reviewed and certified by a canvassing board. If necessary, the canvassing board oversees a recount. Canvassing boards are also involved in the process of randomly selecting precincts for review after every election.
On Election Night, county election officials enter unofficial election results on the Office of the Secretary of State’s website. Following Election Day, county election officials audit and proof their work to make any corrections as necessary before they canvass their results. It is routine for election officials to discover a number of small errors or typos, such as transposition of digits (e.g., entering the number 48 instead of 84).
Once results have been proofed by county election officials, the county canvassing board must review and approve the results before they are official. A county canvassing board certifies the votes cast within the county for races that go beyond the county boundaries and certifies the election results for offices up for election that are voted upon exclusively within that county (county offices and legislative districts that are entirely contained within the county). Federal offices, statewide offices and legislative districts that cross county lines must be certified by the state canvassing board.
Every county establishes a county canvassing board of five members: the county auditor; the court administrator of the district court in that county; the mayor or chair of the town board of the most populous municipality in the county; and two members of the county board.
Each municipality and school district has its own canvassing board to certify results in those races.
The county canvass report is sent to the Office of the Secretary of State where it is carefully reviewed and incorporated into a statewide canvass report that is presented to the State Canvassing Board.
The state canvassing board, like a county canvassing board, meets following each state primary and general election. It meets at the secretary of state’s office seven days following a state primary election and on the third Tuesday following a state general election.
The state canvassing board is responsible for canvassing and certifying the results of all statewide elections, including state and federal offices, state constitutional amendment ballot questions, and state legislative and judicial offices that overlap more than one county. In conducting the canvass, the state canvassing board compiles and reviews the results as indicated by each of the 87 county canvassing reports. If necessary, upon the request of an apparent losing candidate, the state canvassing board oversees a recount of the results for that office.
The state canvassing board is made up of five members. The Secretary of State serves as chair. To fill out the board, the secretary appoints two members of the State Supreme Court and two judges from a district court.
Learn about how elections work in Minnesota