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Primary election voting reminders

By Scott Felten

Mower County Aditor Treasurer

The State Primary Election Day on Tuesday, Aug. 11, is approaching and here are some voting reminders.

Due to COVID-19, school buildings are not allowed to be used for polling places and many election judges are choosing not to work this year because of health concerns.  As a result, the City of Austin has consolidated its normal polling places into one in-person voting location on Election Day – the Austin Holiday Inn Conference Center located at 1701 Fourth Street NW in Austin.  For City of Austin voters, there are only two offices to vote for on the primary ballot, so voters should be able to move through the voting process quite quickly.

Because of these changes brought on by COVID-19, many voters are choosing to absentee vote, and the vast majority of Mower County people voting by absentee ballot have been doing so through the mail.  However, for people who prefer to vote in-person, but who do not want to wait until Primary Election Day on Aug. 11, there are in-person absentee voting options available.

The Mower County Elections Office, located this year in Austin City Hall at 500 Fourth Ave. NE, is open Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for people to absentee vote.  The Elections Office will also be open additional hours to provide an opportunity for people to absentee vote in-person.  The additional days and times are:  Tuesday, Aug. 4 until 7 p.m., 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 8 and Monday, Aug. 10 until 5 p.m..  Please note that absentee voting is not allowed on Election Day, Aug. 11; voters must vote at their designated polling location that day.

Before being able to absentee vote, a voter must first complete a Minnesota Absentee Ballot Application and return it to the Mower County Elections Office, either electronically, by mail, or in-person, at 500 Fourth Ave. NE, Austin.  The application is available online at mnvotes.org, or from the Elections Office, or from the Mower County Auditor-Treasurer’s Election Information page on the Mower County website.

After the Mower County Elections Office receives the completed absentee ballot application, an absentee ballot can be issued to the voter either through the mail or in person, whichever the voter is most comfortable doing.  Once completed, the absentee ballot can be mailed back to the Elections office, or dropped off in-person; again, whichever the voter is most comfortable doing.  Because of COVID-19 concerns, the vast majority of absentee ballot application requests and absentee ballots are being sent out and returned through the mail.

Voters can check on the status of their absentee or mail ballot to make sure it was received by going to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website page: https://mnvotes.sos.state.mn.us/AbsenteeBallotStatus.aspx.  Just enter your name, date of birth, and ID number (either MN driver’s license number/State ID number, or last 4 digits of social security number).

Absentee ballots can be returned by mail or in-person by dropping them off at the Mower County Elections Office no later than 3 p.m. on Election Day.  You can also ask someone else to return your completed absentee ballot to the Elections Office by no later than 3 pm on Election Day.

Mail Ballot Voting Reminders

Voters who live in mail ballot precincts are allowed to vote in person at the Mower County Elections Office on Election Day, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 11, if they prefer.  They can also vote during the same dates and times that absentee voters can vote at the Elections Office.  Mail ballot voters can return their ballots in-person to the Elections Office rather than by mail, if they prefer.  Completed mail ballots must be dropped off at the Elections Office by 8 pm on Election Day, Aug. 11.

Note that due to the COVID-19 situation, for 2020 only, state law allows completed primary election absentee ballots and mail ballots that are postmarked on or before Tuesday, Aug. 11 (Primary Election Day) to be accepted and counted as long as they are received in the Mower County Elections Office by Thursday, Aug. 13.

Register to Vote at Polling Place

A person can register to vote on Election Day by bringing one proof of residence with them to their polling location.  Acceptable proof includes an ID with current name and address, such as a valid MN driver’s license.

Acceptable proof can also include a photo ID and a document with your current name and address – the photo ID can be a U.S. passport or a high school/college ID; and the document can be a bill dated within 30 days of the election for phone, TV, garbage, or utilities, or a bank or credit card statement, or a rent or mortgage statement.  Another form of acceptable proof is to bring a registered voter from your precinct with you to the polling location to sign an oath confirming your address.  This is known as ‘vouching’.

For elections related questions, please call the Mower County Elections Office at 507-437-9535, or email elections@co.mower.mn.us.