Absentee ballots ballots up over 200 percent in Minnesota

"There is no barrier. That can't be an excuse here in Minnesota. We give you that opportunity."

Sloane Martin
October 30, 2018 - 1:32 pm
Early voting center

Entercom

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Minnesota is a national leader in voter turnout and that's not just the culture of civic engagement — it's also because the laws make it easier than many other states.

All county election offices have "no excuse" needed absentee voting, but sixteen have opened up additional early voting centers Oct. 30 through Nov. 5. Minneapolis has four open and there are five operating in St. Paul, while in the suburbs, Washington County has six open, Dakota County with 14 and Anoka County has nearly two dozen.

Minnesota also doesn't require an ID for registered voters, and has same-day registration for those who aren't in the books. The early voting centers have extended hours to meet the needs of voters and in Minneapolis, elections officials are seeing results.

As of noon Tuesday, the first day three additional centers outside downtown opened:

- 125 people voted at the North location at the Minneapolis Urban League on Plymouth Ave.

- 98 people cast their ballot at the East center at the University of Minnesota on University Ave.

- 393 came out to vote at the South location at Regents Assembly Church on West. 31st Street and 225 voted downtown.

Minneapolis director of Elections & Voter Services Grace Wachlarowicz says it's all part of the effort to make voting as accessible as possible.

"There is no barrier," she said. "That can't be an excuse here in Minnesota. We give you that opportunity."

According to data from the Secretary of State's office, as of Oct. 25:

- 249,909 absentee ballots have been accepted by elections officials statewide —a 203 percent increase over the same time in 2014, the last non-presidential election.

- At least 372,731 ballots have been requested, which already surpasses the number from 2016. Elections officials, even in a high-turnout state like Minnesota, generally see lower vote totals in non-presidential elections.

Anoka County elections officials have already accepted almost 13,000 absentee ballots — a 323 percent jump since 2014. The most drastic jumps are in the metro and suburbs, but Olmsted County is seeing a 223 percent increase and St. Louis County is at 122 percent.

Wachlarowicz says in Minneapolis, participation has been strong.

"Just to give you an indication, as of (Monday), this is before our multi sites were opened, we've already accepted over 23,000 ballots," she said. "The turnout so far has been strong and positive."

The early voting centers are not as busy or hurried as polls can be on election day, so people who need extra time don't have to stress. The centers also offer language assistance.

Early voting center information for where you live:

Minneapolis

St. Paul/Ramsey County

Everywhere else