Secretary of State Introduces New Online Tool for Voters to Request Absentee Ballot
Increase in Absentee Balloting Expected as Voters No Longer Need an Excuse to Vote Absentee
SAINT PAUL, Minnesota — Minnesota voters can now request an absentee ballot online at mnvotes.org through a new tool launched by the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State. The service allows voters to apply for an absentee ballot quickly and easily without the need to print, scan forms, and return by mail, fax or email. A similar tool for military and overseas voters was introduced in September 2013.
Voters may request an absentee ballot for both the August 12 Primary Election and November 4 General Election. Ballots for those elections will be mailed when they become available on June 27 and September 19, respectively.
“Providing online services that are efficient and convenient for voters leads to greater voter participation, helping to ensure every eligible voice can be heard in our elections,” says Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.
Ritchie adds the new tool saves election officials’ time and reduces errors by eliminating the tasks of manually entering voter data and interpreting handwriting.
Upon requesting an absentee ballot, voters may use the “Absentee Ballot Lookup” tool at mnvotes.org to find the status of their ballot, such as when it was mailed, and if their completed ballot was received and accepted by their local elections office.
Voters may continue to request absentee ballots by mail, and vote absentee in person at their county elections office, as well as a select number of cities.
‘No Excuse’ Needed to Vote Absentee
The Office of the Secretary of State expects an uptick in absentee balloting in 2014 as Minnesota voters no longer need an excuse to vote absentee, such as being ill or out of their precinct on Election Day. As a result, more voters can vote early by absentee to avoid long lines and waits at the polling place.
In Minnesota’s last non-presidential election in 2010, there were 127,248 absentee ballots cast, about 6 percent of the total 2,123,369 votes cast.
Eligible voters may learn more about the absentee ballot process at mnvotes.org.
How the “Request an Absentee Ballot” Tool Works
Voters requesting an absentee ballot online complete the online application at mnvotes.org. Their information is verified against data from the state’s Driver and Vehicle Services or Social Security Administration. Local election officials review the application, and if approved, send the voter their absentee ballot so they may vote early.
More Voter Tools at mnvotes.org
The new “Request Absentee Ballot” tool joins a suite of online applications provided by the Office of the Secretary of State, including:
- Voter Registration Lookup — voters can check if they are registered to vote at their current address.
- Online Voter Registration — more than 4,000 voters have successfully registered online since September 2013.
- Polling Place Finder — voters can find where they vote.
- My Ballot — voters view their sample ballot (available on June 27 for the August 12 Primary Election) and can find links to candidates’ websites.
- Absentee Ballot Lookup — voters can find the status of their absentee ballot.
2014 Is a Significant Election Year
This election year, Minnesota voters will head to the polls to decide a U.S. Senate seat, all of Minnesota’s eight U.S. House seats, as well as governor and other state officers, and all Minnesota State House seats. The 2014 election will also include many county commissioners, county sheriffs, county attorneys, auditors, treasurers and recorders.
Key 2014 election dates:
- June 27 — Absentee ballots will be available for the August 12 Primary Election.
- July 22 — Pre-registration deadline for Primary Election. Voters are encouraged to pre-register to vote to avoid long lines and waits at the polling place. Voters who miss this deadline may still register at their polling place on Primary Election Day, August 12.
- August 12 — Primary Election Day.
- September 19 — Absentee ballots will be available for the November 4 General Election.
- October 14 — Pre-registration deadline for the General Election. Voters are encouraged to pre-register to vote to avoid long lines and waits at the polling place. Voters who miss this deadline may still register at their polling place on Election Day, November 4.
- November 4 — General Election Day.