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2020 Voter Guide: What to know about Minnesota's elections

Get details here for how to register, where to vote, how to vote early or by mail, important election dates and more.

Find in-depth information about voting in Minnesota on the KARE 11 Voter's Toolkit page.

Get the latest results on the KARE 11 Elections page on Election Night.

IMPORTANT 2020 ELECTION DATES IN MINNESOTA

  • September 18: Early voting begins (by mail and in-person)
  • September 22: National Voter Registration Day
  • October 2: Recommended date for requesting an absentee ballot
  • October 13: Deadline for advance voter registration by mail or online (same-day registration is still available at the polls)
  • November 3: Election Day & absentee ballot postmark deadline
  • November 10: Deadline for absentee ballots to arrive at county election offices
Credit: KARE

WHO CAN VOTE IN MINNESOTA?

According to the Minnesota Secretary of State's Office, in order to be eligible to vote in Minnesota, you must be:

  • A U.S. citizen
  • At least 18 years old on Election Day
  • A resident of the state of Minnesota for at least 20 days
  • Not currently serving a felony sentence (including probation, parole or supervised release)

HOW TO REGISTER TO VOTE IN MINNESOTA

Minnesota residents can register in advance until 20 days before the election. Registration is available online on the Minnesota Secretary of State's website. Voter registration can also be completed using a paper form, like from a voter registration drive, county elections office, or printed from the Secretary of State's website and postmarked by 20 days before the election.

Registration is also available on Election Day at the polls, by bringing in an approved document that proves your current address, or having another registered voter in your precinct vouch for you.

You can check your registration status online at the Secretary of State's website.

READ MORE: How to register to vote in Minnesota

WHAT'S ON YOUR BALLOT

Sample ballots can be found by searching your address on the My Ballot page of the Minnesota Secretary of State's website.

WHERE & WHEN TO VOTE ON ELECTION DAY

The state has a Poll Finder available online, where you can enter your address to find your polling location. 

Most polls open starting at 7 a.m. on Election Day, and close at 8 p.m.; however, if you're already in line by 8 p.m., you will be allowed to vote.

DO I NEED TO BRING ID TO VOTE?

Identification or proof of address is only needed if you need to register to vote at the polls. If your voter registration is current, your name will be on the voter list at your polling location and the state of Minnesota does not require you to to show an ID to vote.

HOW TO FILL OUT A BALLOT

Whether it’s in-person or absentee, in most cases in Minnesota, voters will use a pen with blue or black ink to completely fill in an oval next to a candidate's name.

Be sure to read the headings in each section, as some city or school board races are filling multiple seats and will allow voters to cast a vote for more than one candidate.

In its tips for new voters, Minnesota Secretary of State's office also notes that voters don't have to fill out every race. Even if you leave some races blank, the rest of your ballot still counts.

HOW TO VOTE EARLY IN PERSON

Minnesota voters can cast a ballot in-person starting 46 days before an election at county election offices. Some communities also offer additional in-person voting locations.

Early voting is available until the day before the election. In 2020, the early voting period runs from Friday, Sept. 18 to Monday, Nov. 2.

Eligible voters can also register to vote at an early voting location by providing proof of a current address.

RELATED: Where to vote early in Minnesota

HOW TO VOTE EARLY BY MAIL (ABSENTEE)

Minnesota voters can cast an absentee ballot by mail starting 46 days before Election Day.

Voters can request absentee ballots online on any day of the year except Election Day, while making sure to allow election officials enough time to send the ballot to you, and giving you time to return it. In 2020, state officials recommend requesting your ballot before Oct. 2 to make sure there's enough time to receive it.

Absentee ballots typically require a witness signature to be valid; however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that requirement is waived for registered voters in 2020. Voters who are not already registered will still need a witness signature.

Once filled out, absentee ballots can be returned in multiple ways:

  • Return a ballot by mail or a package delivery service to your county elections office. In 2020, mailed ballots must be postmarked by Election Day (Nov. 3) and received by your county within seven calendar days (Nov. 10).
  • Ballots can be returned in-person to your county elections office by 3 p.m. on Election Day.
  • In special cases, voters can ask for an agent to pick up and deliver ballots to the elections office.

No postage stamps are required to send in a ballot by mail.

READ MORE: How to get your Minnesota absentee ballot

HOW TO TRACK YOUR ABSENTEE BALLOT

Absentee voters can track whether their ballots have been received by searching on the Minnesota Secretary of State's website.

READ MORE: How to track your vote in MN

HOW TO CHANGE YOUR VOTE

According to the Secretary of State, Minnesota absentee voters can ask to cancel their ballot until the end of business two weeks before Election Day. Voters must contact the election office that sent the ballot. A new ballot can be mailed, if there's enough time, or voters can cast their ballot in-person at the polls instead.

READ MORE: How to change your vote in MN

HOW CAN I BE SURE MY MAILED BALLOT IS SECURE?

When you apply online for an absentee ballot in Minnesota, you have to enter your driver's license or state ID number, or the last four digits of your social security number to release the ballot for mailing. When you mail it back in, you have to provide the exact same number you used to get it.

As a voter tracks their ballot online, if it goes missing, a voter can cancel it like a lost check and fill out a new ballot to take its place.

RELATED: Here's how Minnesota election officials are keeping your mail-in ballot secure

HOW IS MINNESOTA PROTECTING VOTERS FROM COVID-19 AT THE POLLS?

The federal CARES Act gave Minnesota $8.4 million for supplies at the polls. The Secretary of State's office is using that money to provide:

  • 50,000 3M masks for poll workers
  • 230,000 disposable masks for voters
  • 8,000 gallons of hand sanitizer
  • 8,200 gallons of disinfectant
  • 6,000 sanitation stands

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said this will ensure every booth, pen, and table will be sanitized after every use, and if you don't have a mask, there will be enough for the state to provide you one.

RELATED: How Minnesota is protecting voters at the polls during the COVID-19 pandemic

WHERE IS MY COUNTY ELECTION OFFICE?

For voters with questions about their registration status, or those looking to drop off an absentee ballot, the Secretary of State keeps a list of the locations, contact information, and websites of county election offices across Minnesota.

BE CAREFUL WITH PHOTOS AT THE POLLS

According to the Minnesota Secretary of State, it is not illegal to take a photo inside of a polling place, but voters are not allowed to take photos of a marked ballot.

READ MORE: Want to take a ballot selfie in Minnesota?

WHEN WILL WE KNOW THE RESULTS?

County election offices are responsible for counting ballots. The Secretary of State's Office will post unofficial election results on election night; however, due to the variety of equipment used by various counties, and the seven-day grace period for absentee ballot delivery in 2020, state officials caution that final results could take time.

KARE 11 will also track election results as they come in, both on-air and online.

KARE 11 also has information for Wisconsin residents in our 2020 Wisconsin Voter Guide.

Our KARE to Vote Team is digging into your questions this election season for stories on-air and online. Text your questions to 763-797-7215.