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Voting by mail in four steps


September 18, 2020

Here’s a rundown of how to vote by mail in Minnesota’s November general election:

Step 1) Register

Registering first isn’t required to cast a mail-in ballot, but state elections officials say it makes the process easier.

In Minnesota, you can register to vote or update your registration online if you have a Minnesota driver’s license or state identification card. If not, you still can download a paper application you can mail in or drop off at your county election office.

Step 2) Request ballot

Eligible Minnesota voters can get an absentee ballot for any reason. Even if you simply don’t want to go to the polls — like if there’s a deadly respiratory virus spreading throughout the state — you can get an absentee ballot. People can apply for a ballot anytime before Election Day and the application is available on the Secretary of State’s website.

Step 3) Vote and sign the envelope

Once you receive your mail-in ballot, check if both sides of the ballot paper are printed correctly and make sure your absentee ballot package has a ballot and three envelopes: a tan ballot envelope, a white signature envelope and a white return envelope.

Then, mark your ballot, put it in the tan ballot envelope and seal the envelope. On the white signature envelope, write your name, address and ID number, sign the envelope and put it inside the return envelope.

For the Nov. 3 election, registered voters don’t need to have a witness to sign on the absentee ballot envelope. If you’re not registered, you will still need a witness to sign on the signature envelope. The witness can be another registered Minnesota voter or a notary.

Step 4) Turn in your ballot on time

You can return your ballot simply by mail or any package delivery service. Your ballot must be postmarked on or before Election Day, and received by your county within seven days after the election — Nov. 10 for the general election. So make sure to allow sufficient time for your ballot to ship. You can check if your ballot has been received and counted on the Secretary of State’s website.

If you’re up against the clock, you can return your ballot in person by 3 p.m. on Election Day. Remember, you should drop off your ballot at the election office that originally sent it, not at the polling place.

If you’re asking someone else to return your ballot in person, or if you’re doing so for others, the person who’s dropping off ballots can return ballots for up to three other voters and needs to show identification with name and signature when turning in those ballots.

People hospitalized or living in a nursing home can request to have an agent pick up their ballot and return it on their behalf.


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