Voting is underway in Minnesota's Nov. 8 general election.
Under state law, voters can cast their ballot by mail or in person up to 46 days before an election. Absentee balloting exploded in the 2020 election because of concerns about long lines at the polls and the spread of COVID-19.
The convenience of voting ahead of time is expected to remain popular with certain voters, but state officials anticipate many Minnesotans will return to voting in person on Election Day this cycle.
Whatever you decide, here's what you need to know to successfully cast your ballot on or before the Nov. 8 election.
If I want to vote by mail from home, how do I get a ballot?
You can apply for an absentee ballot on the Secretary of State's website if you're eligible to register and vote in Minnesota. To apply online, you must provide a valid email address and either your Minnesota-issued driver's license or state ID card number or the last four digits of your Social Security number. You can also print out a paper application to get a ballot and mail it to your local election office.
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I received my ballot in the mail. Now what?
You can vote now, but there are a few extra steps when voting by mail. You'll need a registered Minnesota voter or a notary to act as a witness as you complete your ballot. That person must then sign a signature envelope included with your absentee ballot and list the witness' address. Notaries need to write down their name and title and sign the signature envelope.
How long do I have to mail in my absentee ballot?
You can mail in your ballot anytime during the 46-day window before the election, as long as your ballot is delivered via USPS or a courier service by 8 p.m. on Election Day, the same time polls close. Otherwise, it won't be counted. Give your mail carrier a few days to collect your ballot and get it to your local election office.
I'd feel better if I could drop off my mail-in ballot in person. Is that an option?
Yes, you have until 3 p.m. on Election Day to return your ballot to the office that sent it to you if you're dropping it off in person. Do not go to your polling place to drop off your ballot — it must be returned to your local election office.
What if I make a mistake on my ballot?
There are a few options to remedy a mistake on a mail-in ballot. The easiest way is to ask the local election office that sent you the ballot to send a replacement. If there's not enough time to do that before Election Day, the Secretary of State's office says you can clearly cross out the name of the candidate you didn't intend to vote for and select the candidate you prefer.
What if I returned my ballot but I want to change my vote?
You can ask to cancel your ballot until the close of business one week before Election Day (after that, you can't). To cancel your ballot, contact the local election office that sent it to you. After it's canceled, you have a few options: have a new ballot mailed to you, vote in person at your local election office or vote at your polling place on Election Day.
Can I check to make sure my mail-in ballot made it to my local election office?
Yes. The status of mail-in ballots can be tracked on the Secretary of State's website.
How secure is mail-in voting?
There are many layers of security around the mail-in balloting process, including the fact that voters must include their Social Security or ID information to order an absentee ballot. That ballot will be counted only if it's returned with the same information. There are also many checks in the system to make sure a ballot is counted correctly.
I like voting in person, but I want to cast my ballot early. Where do I go?
You can vote early at your local elections office. Each county has an election office, and depending on where you live, there may be more than one place to vote early. Some cities have their own early-voting locations as well. Contact your local officials to find out where to vote.
Are those early voting locations open after work hours?
Early voting locations are open during their normal business hours during the 46 days before Election Day, but many offer extended hours closer to the election, including the last Saturday before Nov. 8.
Do I need to be registered to vote early in person?
You can register in person at your early-voting location if you bring proof of residence.
I'm voting in person on Election Day. Where do I go?
On Election Day, you'll vote at your local polling location. The Secretary of State's office has a poll finder tool on its website. Most polling places open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.
I'm not registered to vote yet. Can I register on Election Day?
Yes, Minnesota state law allows you to register at your polling place on Election Day. You will need proof of residence if you register in person.
You can also save yourself the time at your polling place by pre-registering to vote on the Secretary of State's website or by filling out a paper application before Oct. 18. You will need your Minnesota driver's license, identification card number or the last four digits of your Social Security number.
Do I need to register with a political party to vote in Minnesota's general election?
No. Minnesota does not have political party registration, meaning you do not have to publicly declare affiliation with a party when you register to vote.