Providers Need to Allow Access with Limited Exceptions when Candidates Come Knocking

As we near election day in Minnesota, candidates for political office may be reaching out to nursing homes and assisted living settings to get access to their buildings for door knocking or lit-dropping. We want to reminder providers that Minnesota law makes clear that candidates should only be denied access to multiple unit dwellings in limited settings.  

Minn. Stat. 211B.20, subd. 1 reads in part:  “(a) It is unlawful for a person, either directly or indirectly, to deny access to an apartment house, dormitory, nursing home, manufactured home park, other multiple unit facility used as a residence, or an area in which two or more single-family dwellings are located on private roadways to a candidate who has: (1) organized a campaign committee under applicable federal or state law; (2) filed a financial report as required by section 211A.02; or (3) filed an affidavit of candidacy for elected office. A candidate granted access under this section must be allowed to be accompanied by campaign volunteers.”

Access to a building is only required if the building is located in the district that will be represented by the office to which a candidate seeks election, and the candidate and any accompanying volunteers may seek access exclusively for the purpose of campaigning or registering voters. Candidates and their volunteers must be allowed to leave campaign materials at their doors. For nursing homes, there is a provision that allows nursing home administrators to direct campaign materials be left at a central location within the facility. This does not extend to assisted living or senior housing settings. 

Below there are some limited exceptions to this law. Not included in these exceptions are general building policies that prohibit solicitation or resident council resolutions indicating that a desire to deny political candidates from the property. 

  • An individual resident may deny admittance to a particular room or unit;
  • The provider may require reasonable identification as a prerequisite to enter the building;
  • Nursing homes and assisted living settings may deny permission to visit certain persons for valid health reasons;
  • A provider may limit visits by candidates or volunteers accompanied by the candidate to a reasonable number of persons or reasonable hours;
  • A provider may require a prior appointment for the candidate to gain access to the facility;
  • A provider may deny admittance or expel a candidate for good cause.    

If you have been contacted by a candidate about gaining access to your setting and have concerns, contact Kari Thurlow. Also, if you have other questions about election laws that pertain to your settings, please refer to our 2018 Election Guide. 

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