Here's what you need to know about early voting in Minnesota
Early voting for the November midterm election begins in Minnesota today.
The big picture: Any eligible Minnesota voter can cast an absentee ballot early, either in person or via mail.
State of play: Early voting has grown in popularity since state lawmakers passed a no-excuse absentee ballot law in 2013. A record 1.9 million Minnesotans cast absentee ballots in 2020.
Yes, but: This year's primary numbers suggest enthusiasm has cooled since the height of the pandemic, when more people were worried about crowds on Election Day.
How it works: When a mail-in ballot is requested, election officials create an absentee voter record linked to that person's name.
- That record is used to track the ballot through the process. It's also a safeguard against someone voting both in person and via mail.
Yes, but: What if you request a mail-in ballot and change your mind (or lose it) and want to vote in person?
- Election officials can use the information in your voter record to "spoil" the mail version so it can't be processed, even if you lost it or left it behind, and let you cast a new one.
- Voters who turn in a mail ballot early and change their mind about their choices can also "claw back" their ballot up until seven days before the election, which is when local officials begin opening the inner privacy envelopes and putting ballots into the tabulation machines.
Of note: The rule requiring a witness signature for mail-in ballots was waived during the pandemic but is back in effect this year.
- And, unlike in 2020, ballots must be received by Election Day (Nov. 8).
What to watch: Early voting access is an issue in the Secretary of State race.
- Incumbent DFL Secretary of State Steve Simon supports the current set up, while GOP challenger Kim Crockett says she'd like to reduce the early voting period and push more people to vote on Election Day.
The bottom line: The start of early voting means the general election is just 46 days away.
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