Here’s how to vote early in Minn. for the midterm elections

Published 5:20 pm Friday, September 23, 2022

By Abbey Machtig

Early voting opens Friday in Minnesota ahead of the upcoming midterm election in November.

Experts and activists are calling the Nov. 8 election one of the most important of our generation, with future legislation around abortion access and gun control — among other highly debated topics — hanging in the balance.

Beginning Sept. 23 and lasting through Nov. 7, individuals can cast their votes early in person or through the mail with an absentee ballot. To vote early in Minnesota, you must be a U.S. citizen who will be 18 years old and have lived in the state at least 20 days before Nov. 8. Court orders deeming you ineligible to vote and any felony convictions also prevent you from voting.

Here are the two most common ways you can vote early. It’s a popular option: In 2020, 1.6 million Minnesotans had already voted early by four days before the election.

Voting early with an absentee ballot

Individuals can cast their vote early from home with absentee ballots.

People who are already registered to vote need to apply to receive their absentee ballots and can return the completed applications online, via fax or through the mail. You will also need to provide an email address and identification number when you apply for your absentee ballot. (This can include a Minnesota-issued driver’s license, Minnesota ID card or the last four digits of your social security number.)

If you’re not already registered, you can request a ballot and materials to register to vote will be sent along with your absentee ballot. You can check your registration status in Minnesota through this online portal.

After filling out the paper ballot — with blue or black ink — and including a witness signature, you can either drop off the ballot in person or return it through the mail.

Absentee ballots must be received by Election Day or they will not be counted. Ballots returned in person must be dropped off at the county election office (not a polling place) that originally sent it by 3 p.m. on Election Day.

Holding on to an absentee ballot you meant to mail in early can get confusing in the days before the election, so it’s best to mail it as soon as you’re done filling it out.

Agent delivery, which is when someone picks up and returns your absentee ballot on your behalf, is an option only if you are hospitalized or disabled, or you live in a nursing home, assisted living facility, residential treatment center, group home or women’s shelter.

You can track the status of your ballot online and apply for an absentee ballot at any time leading up to the election, as long as it’s returned by Election Day.

Voting early in person

Individuals can also cast their vote in-person before Election Day through in-person voting at their county election office. These locations will be open during normal business hours starting Sept. 23. Some locations may have extended hours during this time, and some local and city offices may also be open for early voting.

If you are not already registered to vote, you can do this while voting early. You’ll be asked to show some form of identification with proof of residence when you register.

The last day to vote early in-person is Nov. 7 — the next day you will be, of course, voting right on time.