Early voting starts September 23 in Minnesota

Minnesota voters can now vote absentee without having to give a reason starting September 23, 2016.

Starting Friday September 23, if you are eligible to vote, you can start casting absentee ballots in Minnesota for the Nov. 8 general election.

This is the first presidential election in which Minnesotans are allowed to vote absentee without having to give an excuse. Minnesota is one of 34 states with some type of early voting and is among the first to start accepting ballots this year.

The presidential race is not the only one on the ballot. There also will be a constitutional amendment in Minnesota on whether state lawmakers’ authority to set their own pay should be transferred to an independent citizen board.

Minnesota voters have a variety of options to vote early.

1.) Voters can use the online application at mnvotes.org to request an absentee ballot or they can download the 2016 Minnesota absentee ballot application on the website and return it to their county election office by email, mail, or fax. The absentee ballot application forms are available in English, Spanish, Hmong, Somali, Vietnamese, Karen, Russian,Chinese, Lao, Oromo, Khmer, and Amharic.

If they aren’t yet registered to vote, a voter registration application will be provided with their ballot.

2.) Vote absentee in person at their elections office. This normally would be the county auditor’s office.

Important: If mailing your absentee ballots, it must be received at the county elections office by November 8. If voting absentee in person, Nov. 7 is the last day you can do so.

Tracking: Voters can track whether their mail ballot was received and accepted by their local elections office. A tracking feature is available to check the status of your ballot.

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon has urged voters to participate in early voting.

Simon said he wants to see the state back in the lead. “I encourage all eligible Minnesotans who can’t make it to the polls on Election Day, or simply want to vote from the comfort of their own home, to vote early by casting an absentee ballot and ensure that their voice is heard,” he said. “I know that together we can get our state back to No. 1 in voter turnout in the country.”

Voters can visit the official MNVotes.org for more information on how to vote early or register to vote.

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