By Maggie Parra and Alicia Kubas
Libraries Civic Engagement Committee
The next election in Minnesota is the Nov. 3 general election for the President and Vice President as well as seats in the U.S. Senate, U.S. House, Minnesota Legislature, and judicial offices. Depending on your district or precinct, you may also have special elections on your ballot.
The two options for early voting in Minnesota are by mail via an absentee ballot or voting at an early vote center. This article discusses both options and what steps you need to take to vote early.
In-person early voting
Early voting centers are currently open for voting in Minnesota and all voters have at least one location where they can vote early in person with an absentee ballot. Every county has an election office where you can vote early, and some counties also offer additional early voting centers, located at a community center, public library, or other public building. If you are not registered before going to an early vote center, you can do so in person if you show proof of residence.
Mail-in absentee voting
In order to vote by mail in Minnesota for the Nov. 3 election, you must request an absentee ballot. You can apply for a ballot any time during the year, except the day of the election but the Secretary of State recommends applying for your mail in ballot by Oct. 2, 2020 in order to ensure there is enough time for voters to receive and return their ballot on time.
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 general election. Non-registered voters will still need a witness to indicate their proof of residence.
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 within seven days after the election: November 10, 2020 for the upcoming general election.
- 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 the election office that originally sent it, not at the polling place.
- 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 Minnesota 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.
- You can also use the ballot tracker to see when the election office has sent your ballot through the mail if you’re waiting to receive it.
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.