By Alicia Kubas and Del Reed
Libraries Civic Engagement Committee
The next election in Minnesota is the State Primary on August 11 to choose the DFL and Republican nominees ahead of the November general election for seats in the U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and state legislature.
In order to vote by mail in Minnesota for the August 11 state primary election and/or the November general election, you must request an absentee ballot. There are also options to vote early in person and to still vote on election day at your polling place, but this article focuses on voting by mail via absentee ballot.
You can apply for a ballot any time during the year, except the day of the election. Be sure to leave time for election officials to mail your ballot and for you to return it on or before Election Day or to have it postmarked by August 11.
While you do not need to be registered to vote in Minnesota to request an absentee ballot, the process will be easier if you are already registered to vote. If you need to register or update your voter registration, you may want to do that online before applying for an absentee ballot.
Request an Absentee Ballot
To complete an absentee ballot application online, you must
- be eligible to register and vote in Minnesota,
- provide an email address, and
- provide an identification number from a Minnesota issued driver’s license, a Minnesota ID card, or the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number.
- If you are an active duty military or overseas voter, you must use the Special Application for Military and Overseas Voters.
- If you have already submitted your application, do not submit another one. If you would like to check on the progress of your application, you can go to Absentee Ballot Lookup or contact your county election office.
Complete your ballot
- Once you have received your mail-in ballot, carefully read the instructions that come with the ballot.
- Your signature envelope might have a box for a witness to complete and sign. Due to COVID-19, there is no witness requirement for registered voters for the August 11, 2020 State Primary. Non-registered voters will still need a witness to indicate their proof of residence.
- For the November general election, currently a witness is still needed regardless of registration status, but this may change.
Return your ballot
- You should mail your ballot and forms back as soon as you have finished. Your ballot must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by your county by the day before the county canvass, which may take place on the second or third day following the election (for example, in both Hennepin and Ramsey counties, ballots need to be received by August 13).
- You can return your ballot by United States Postal Service or by a package delivery service such as FedEx or UPS.
- You can also return your ballot in person no later than 3 p.m. on Election Day, but remember that it must be returned to whatever election office sent you the ballot.
- You can also drop off ballots for up to 3 voters. You will need to show identification with your name and signature when you are returning a ballot for someone else.
- See the MN Secretary of State website about voting early by mail for more information.
Track your ballot
- You can track the status of your ballot to confirm that it was received and accepted without problem.
Check your Registration Status
- If you are unsure whether you are registered to vote, you can check your registration status to confirm that you are registered.
For more information
- See the Office of the Secretary of State of Minnesota’s Vote Early by Mail page for more information.
- Minnesota rules on voting by mail
- Jurisdictions in Minnesota outside of the seven-county metro area with less than 400 registered voters hold elections by mail instead of voting at polling places. For more information, see the Minnesota Secretary of State website about cities and towns that vote by mail.
- The Humphrey Center at the University of Minnesota has a certificate program on election administration and hosts regular webinars on a variety of topics related to elections.
University of Minnesota research and expertise
Lawrence R Jacobs: McKnight Presidential Chair in Public Affairs, the Walter F. and Joan Mondale Chair for Political Studies, and director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance in the Hubert H. Humphrey School and the Department of Political Science at the University of Minnesota
Alicia Kubas: Government Publications and Data Librarian
Jenny McBurney: Library Liaison to Political Science