Minnesota early voting starts next week
ST. PAUL -- It's almost time to vote. Minnesotans may start voting Sept. 19. The early voting is not only for people who will be away from home on Election Day. Now anyone can vote early under a new state law. Old law required an excuse such as b...
ST. PAUL - It’s almost time to vote.
Minnesotans may start voting Sept. 19. The early voting is not only for people who will be away from home on Election Day. Now anyone can vote early under a new state law. Old law required an excuse such as being out of one’s voting precinct on Election Day.
Campaigns are pushing the early voting as a way to lock in their supporters.
Take U.S. Sen. Al Franken, for instance. The Democrat sent an email to supporters last week saying that he wants their promise to vote.
“I need your vote ...” he wrote, reminding supporters that he won by only 312 votes in his initial campaign. “And if I had the votes of a few hundred of your friends and family, that’d be great, too. But right now, I need to know that you’re with me.”
Voters who cast ballots early are voters campaigns do not need to keep wooing. Campaigns want to lock in their votes before something happens that could sway them.
And, given Minnesota’s weather, a snowy Election Day could scare away voters, so campaigns would prefer those ballots already were cast.
Since this is the first year for early voting, which still is officially called “absentee voting,” no one knows how it will affect the election. The best guess among politicos is that younger populations will embrace the new concept, while older rural voters would rather go the traditional route and visit polling places on Nov. 4.
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie’s office reports that Minnesotans may vote by mail, in person at local elections offices or have a person deliver the ballot. Military and overseas voters use a different process.
For many, the easiest way to vote will be to stop by the local elections office (such as county auditor’s office) and cast a ballot. It probably would be much like going to a polling place, but without long lines. Votes are accepted during regular business hours; state law also requires elections offices to be open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the Saturday before an election and until 5 p.m. the day before the election.
Another option is going to the secretary of state’s website and requesting an absentee ballot application, with the ballot being sent to the voter via mail. People who have not registered to vote still may vote absentee because a registration form will be sent with the ballot.
A ballot mailed to voters may be returned by mail, delivered in person to the office that sent the ballot or someone else may return the ballot by 3 p.m. on Election Day. A voter may not hand-deliver his or her own absentee ballot on Election Day.
To learn more
Absentee voting information, as well as other election facts, is available at mnvotes.org.