Early voting starts Friday.  What you need to know

(Mankato, MN) – Early voting for the 2020 election starts Friday in Minnesota.

The general election is November 3, but Minnesotans can cast their ballot by mail, or vote early with an absentee ballot, options that are expected to be popular this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s what you need to know about voting in Minnesota for the 2020 election:

Do I still have time to register?

Yes.  The Minnesota Secretary of State’s website allows residents to register online, or download paper registration forms.  Eligible voters can also register on Election Day at their polling place or at an early voting location, but you will need proof of residence to register.

Can I vote in person during early voting?

Yes. You can cast an early absentee ballot at your county election office.  In Blue Earth County, that’s the Historic Courthouse on 5th Street.  Nicollet County residents will go to the Nicollet County Government Center.  You can find the location of your county election office here.

How do I request a mail-in absentee ballot?

You’ll need to fill out an absentee ballot request form at the Secretary of State’s website.  You can also call 877-600-VOTE for help over the phone.

I already requested a ballot, but it hasn’t arrived yet.

County election officials can begin mailing ballots on Friday, September 18, and you can track your ballot at the Secretary of State’s website.

You can also use the tracking to find out if election officials have received your ballot after you submit it.

How do I return my ballot?

You’ll fill out both sides of the ballot, and seal it in a ballot envelope, which goes inside a signature envelope.  The signature envelope contains fields where you’ll write your name, address, signature, and the ID number you used to request the ballot (usually your driver’s license number or the last four digits of your social security number).  Instructions are included with each absentee ballot.

A witness signature is usually required on the ballot envelope, but that requirement has been waived due to the pandemic.  But if you are registering to vote on election day, you will need a witness.

Your ballot comes with a postage-paid envelope, and can be mailed through the USPS.  The ballot must be postmarked by Election Day, November 3.  Election officials will until November 10, one week after the election to receive, process, and count ballots due to the pandemic.

If you prefer not to mail your ballot, you can drop it off at your county election office.

Can someone else return my ballot for me?

As long as the ballot is properly filled out, signed, and sealed, someone can drop off the ballots for up to three other voters.  The person turning in the ballots is required to show photo identification and submit a signature.

I requested a mail-in ballot, but I lost it or changed my mind.  Now I want to vote in person.  Can I do this?

Yes.  If your ballot hasn’t been counted, you can cast a vote at an early voting center or at your polling place on Election Day.  Your ballot contains a unique ID code attached to your name.  When you check in to vote, election officials will “spoil” the ballot you were sent, which will prevent anyone else from trying to vote with your mail-in ballot.

I want to vote in person on Election Day.   Where do I go?

You can find your polling place on the Minnesota Secretary of State website.

Will I have to wear a mask to vote?

Yes.  The state has mandated face coverings for indoor locations.  Election workers will have extra masks on hand in case you need one.  Election staff will work with those who refuse to wear a mask to ensure they can safely submit a ballot.

What’s on the ballot this year?

Minnesotan’s will be voting for president, one U.S. Senate seat, and their Congressional representatives in Washington, along with the Minnesota House and state Senate.  County, municipal, and judicial elections, schools board races, and ballot measures could also be up for a vote.  Find out what candidates you’ll see on your ballot here.

What can I use for identification when I vote?

A photo ID isn’t required to vote in Minnesota, but it is on the list of approved documents you can use to prove your residence.  A full list of acceptable documentation is available here.


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