Absentee voting locations in Minnesota are required to be open 46 days before the general election, which is Friday, September 18.
“As of right now, we have about 11,000 voters who would be eligible to vote by absentee, meaning they live in a district that has an active polling place,” said Cote. “We currently have requests for about 3,500, so we’re running about 30 percent of that total number. People can start voting by absentee on September 18, which is Friday. We are hopeful we’ll have ballots in hand to do that.”
Ballots will be mailed out to those that have requested them or completed in-person. People can go to the Polk County Government Center at 612 North Broadway, and cast their ballots in person. “Most people are doing it by mail to alleviate contact, which is a great choice,” said Cote. “It is recommended that if people are going to make that request to have it sent in the mail, they do it by October 2. That will allow us time to get it sent out, time for them to vote, and to send it back so that we get it back in time for their vote to count, which is always what we want.”
Cote said she’s started to receive notices that some of the 122 different ballots the county has to prepare have begun to ship. “We have to build the ballot with all the races going on for the 122 ballot styles we have,” said Cote. “Then, the company we do that with provides us a proof. We have to proof it, correct it, proof it again if there is anything that needs to be fixed. Once we sign-off on that, it goes into production. Once it goes into production, it takes several days. I got a shipping notice on part of it today as it comes in sections. I’m hopeful I’ll have ballots on hand, and they will have gotten through the production process by Friday.”
Voters wanting to request an absentee ballot can do so in-person at the Polk County Government Center. They can also submit an application electronically or print one and mail it to Taxpayer Service Center. “There is a paper application available at mnvotes.org to fill out,” said Cote. “They can drop it off at the government center or mail it to us. Once Friday comes, and we get that initial mailing of 3,500 out, I’d assume we’d have about a 24-hour turn around once we receive (an application) in preparing everything that needs to go and to get it back in the mail.”