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Early voting begins today in the state’s August primary: What you need to know

Minnesotans can begin voting Friday in the Aug. 9 primary, officially kicking off the 2022 election season for voters.

Under state law, voters can submit their ballot by mail or in person up to 46 days before an election. Early voting by mail increased in 2020 as more people chose a remote option rather than queuing on Election Day during the COVID-19 pandemic. Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said the 2022 campaign will be a test of the affinity voters have gained for the early voting process over the past cycle.

“More and more, it just works in busy people’s lives,” Simon said. “There are people who don’t want to be told they have to go to a designated place on a certain day for a specific period of time.”

But voting early is not the same process as getting to your polling place on Election Day. And for voters in southern Minnesota, two different elections will be held on August 9. Here’s what you need to know about early voting this summer:

If I want to vote by mail from home, how can I get a ballot?

You can request an absentee ballot on the Secretary of State’s website if you are 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 number, state ID, or the last four digits of your Social Security number. You can also print a paper application and mail it to your local election office.

I received my ballot by mail. Now what?

You can vote now, but a few extra steps are required when voting by mail. You will need a registered Minnesota voter or notary public to act as a witness when you fill out your ballot and vote. This witness must then sign a signature envelope included with your absentee ballot and indicate the address of this person. Notaries must write their name and title and sign the signature envelope.

How soon do I have to send my absentee ballot?

You can mail your ballot at any time during the 46-day window before the election, as long as your ballot is received before Election Day. Otherwise, it will not be counted. Give your postman a few days to collect your ballot and deliver it to your local election office.

I would feel better if I could drop off my absentee ballot in person. Is this an option?

Yes, you have until 3 p.m. on election day to return your ballot to the office that sent it to you. Do not go to your polling station to drop off your ballot — it must be returned to your local election office.

What if I make a mistake on my ballot?

Don’t worry, there are a few options for correcting a mistake on a mail-in ballot. The easiest way is to ask the local election office that sent you the ballot to send you a replacement. If there isn’t enough time to do so 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.

Can I verify that my mail-in ballot has arrived at my local election office?

Yes. The status of mail-in ballots can be tracked on the Secretary of State’s website.

What if I returned my ballot but want to change my vote?

This can happen to some voters who vote early, especially if new information about a candidate comes out late in the campaign. As long as your ballot has not yet been counted, you can still vote in person on Election Day at your polling place or before Election Day at your Early Voting Center. Each mail-in ballot has its own ID number which will be invalidated if you submit a new ballot while voting in person, so you will not vote twice.

How secure is the postal voting process?

Simon said there are many layers of security around the mail-in ballot process, including the fact that voters must include their social security or identity information to order a mail-in ballot. This ballot will only be counted if returned with the same information.

I like to vote in person, but I want to vote early. Where am I going?

You can vote in advance 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 at an advance poll. Some cities also have their own early voting locations. Contact your local authorities to find out where to vote.

Are early polling stations open after working hours?

Early polling stations are open during their normal opening hours in the 46 days before Election Day, but many offer extended hours closer to the election, including the last Saturday before August 9.

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 residency.

I live in Minnesota’s first congressional district. What should I know about the primary?

The death of First District Representative Jim Hagedorn in February sparked a complicated series of elections to replace him for the rest of his current term – which ends in January – and for the new two-year term that begins next year. .

Voters have already narrowed a long list of Republican and Democratic candidates in a special primary election in May for the race to fill the remainder of Hagedorn’s term in Congress. But the winners of each party – Republican Brad Finstad, Democrat Jeff Ettinger and two candidates from the Marijuana Legalization party – must now face off in a special general election, which is being held on the same day as the US primary. August 9 statewide. Yes, that’s right — two CD1 elections on the same day.

The candidates running in the special election to fill Hagedorn’s current term in Congress also want to continue serving the new district after January, so they also filed for the regular primary. Early voting in both elections begins Friday.

“If you are in [the First District] there are two different elections going on,” Simon said. “[First District] voters who think they’re seeing double – who think, wait a minute, didn’t I see these same people on the same ballot for the same office? Yes you can.”

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