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Gausman still on ballot; Write-in candidates must register

The name of deceased Stevens County Commissioner Phil Gausman will still be on the Nov. 6 election ballot, according to Minnesota state law.

State law 204B.131 subd. 1 does not allow for any other names to be placed on the Nov. 6 election ballot nor does it allow for Gausman's name to be removed.

Although a name cannot be added to the Nov. 6 ballot, write-in candidates can still declare their intent to run for the office. Write in candidates must register as a write-in candidate with the county auditor/treasurer's office. State law 204B.09 subd.3 requires write-in candidates to file no later than 5 p.m. on the seventh day prior to the Nov. 6 election.

As of about 11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12, no one had registered as a write-in candidate.

Gausman's Sept. 8 death does create a vacancy in his term as district 5 commissioner but the board cannot fill that vacancy before the election, according to Minnesota statute 375.101.subd. 2. The vacancy happened within 90 days of the Nov. 6 election so by law it cannot be filled until the election.

If Gausman does not win the Nov. 6 general election, the winner fills Gausman's seat for the remainder of the year and for the next four years.

But a special election will be needed if Gausman does win the Nov. 6 election.

State law also says that if Gausman does win the Nov. 6 election, the county board must appoint a person to fill out his current term. The county can also appoint the same person or another person to start the next four-year term until it has a special election.

The state law has timelines for the county's appointment and the setting of a special election.