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Steve Wagner, Forum Communications, Published October 12 2012

More than 100,000 Minnesotans request absentee ballots

An increasing number of Minnesota voters are requesting absentee ballots in advance of November’s general election.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said Thursday that more than 100,000 Minnesota voters have requested absentee ballots. Of those, 41,208 have already been returned by the voter and accepted.

According to Ritchie, an eligible Minnesota voter may cast an absentee ballot for one of the following reasons: absence from the precinct, observance of religious discipline or holiday, illness or disability, serving as an election judge in another precinct, or when an emergency is declared by the governor or a quarantine is declared by the federal or state government.

Some states, like North Dakota, set up early voting centers in addition to absentee ballots. The centers allowing voters to cast their ballots early for any reason.

“People should not be using absentee as a way of doing early voting,” said Kay Mack, auditor/treasurer for Beltrami County.

From an election administration standpoint, Mack said early voting would be less efficient and more expensive to process.

Absentee voting also presents similar challenges.

“It’s not efficient and it’s not inexpensive,” Mack said.

Voters do not need to be registered to vote to apply for an absentee ballot. If a voter is not registered to vote, they will receive a Voter Registration Application with their absentee ballot.

In addition, the Secretary of State said voters can track the status of their absentee ballot online. For more information, visit www.mnvotes.org. Military and overseas voters use a different absentee balloting process, which is detailed at https://minnesota.overseasvotefoundation.org.

All voters can find out who is running for office in their precinct and create a sample ballot by visiting the Secretary of State’s website at www.sos.state.mn.us.