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VERIFY: Is that absentee ballot application from the 'Center for Voter Information' legit?

Did you get one of these mailings, offering you a form and a pre-paid envelope to request your 2020 Minnesota absentee ballot?

Absentee ballots are perhaps a hotter topic than ever before in U.S. history, with a high-stakes presidential election coming up and a global pandemic making in-person voting less appealing for some.

The KARE 11 VERIFY team is here to answer your questions about the process, what's legitimate - and what's not.

THE QUESTION

Nancy wrote in saying that she received a letter from the "Center for Voter Information" that looks like a 2020 Minnesota absentee ballot application, already filled in with her name and address. But at the bottom, it says "CVI is not affiliated with state or local election officials." The application asks for a date of birth, driver's license number, phone number and the last four digits of a social security number.

Nancy wondered, "Is this for real?"

THE ANSWER

The mailings are indeed from a third-party nonprofit, not affiliated with the state of Minnesota. Returning the enclosed form to your county elections office is a legitimate way to get an absentee ballot, and it will work. However, the Minnesota Secretary of State's Office still recommends using their online form directly.

WHAT WE LEARNED

Risikat Adesaogun, press secretary for Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, said that many organizations and interest groups send out mailings like this one from the Center for Voter Information (CVI).

The information that's pre-filled in, such as the voter's name, county and address, is all publicly accessible from the secretary of state's office and can be purchased by anyone.

The form that CVI sends out is a "faithful copy" of the form that the state of Minnesota, and individual counties and cities, distribute to voters to request a ballot. So it is a legitimate way to request a ballot.

Adesaogun warned of two things:

THE BOTTOM LINE

Adesaogun said that while the form is an acceptable way to request an absentee ballot, the secretary of state's office "highly suggests" using this online form found on their website.

He also said that the secretary of state's office will be sending out ballot request applications to all voters who haven't already applied in the coming weeks.