A guide to voting early in Minnesota and Wisconsin

Crystal Bui, KSTP
Created: October 27, 2020 10:46 PM

It's one week before election day and already there are record numbers of early voting and absentee voting.

Many businesses are also pushing to get out the vote. Some rideshare companies are also offering discounted rides to polling places as part of their "Get Out The Vote" efforts.

And in Minnesota, additional pop-up voting sites will open throughout this week. In total, there will be 32 pop-up sites in the following counties: Blue Earth, Hennepin, Ramsey, Redwood, Rice, St. Louis, Scott, Sibley, and Stearns. 

Gov. Tim Walz, Attorney General Keith Ellison, Mayor Melvin Carter, and Auditor Julie Blaha say that people should vote early in person if possible. 

Voters with mail-in ballots that have not returned them should do so in person at their nearest polling location to ensure it is received on time. 

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon has some last-minute reminders on three ways you can still vote.

The first is in person, at the polling place on election day.  The second is to vote during business hours, in person by early-voting. And the third, is to vote by submitting an absentee ballot.

"I would not recommend at this point, ordering a ballot if you haven't already ordered it. If you have the ballot with you, on your coffee table, or on your kitchen table, vote it now and get it in as soon as possible," said Simon.

Voters can mail it in,  hand-deliver it to a polling site or give it to someone trustworthy to deliver it for them. 

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS asked if Simon would recommend people to hand drop-off the ballots, or mail it in, a week before the elections.

"Well, we have a rule now just for 2020 that allows people by November, as long as it gets in a week later. However, I wouldn't wait that long. I think there is still time to mail it, I would mail it today," said Simon.

But what if you've voted and now you want to change your vote? 

In Minnesota, it's too late. That's because election officials have already started processing ballots. 

While in Wisconsin, there is still more time. 

Here is some information for voters in Wisconsin: 
 
Can voters change their minds and get a new ballot?
 
Yes. Voters can receive up to three ballots if they make a mistake or change their mind under certain circumstances.
 
Voters who have been issued an absentee ballot by mail may request a new ballot in writing until 5 p.m. on the Thursday before an election. The clerk will spoil the first ballot and send a new ballot. The voter can also request to have the second ballot spoiled and receive a third ballot sent, again prior to the deadline. Voters considering doing this by mail should be aware that the statutory deadline to spoil their ballot may conflict with the seven days it may take for USPS to deliver their absentee ballot, plus the seven days necessary to return an absentee ballot by mail.  If the second or third ballot does not arrive by Election Day, it will not be counted. As a practical matter, voters attempting this one week before Election Day seriously risk having their vote not count.

At the clerk's office or a satellite voting location during the in-person absentee voting period starting two weeks before the election and ending the Sunday before the election, voters may also receive up to three ballots if they make a mistake or change their mind. 

At the polling place on Election Day, voters may also receive up to three ballots if they make a mistake or change their mind before placing their ballot into a tabulator or ballot box.
 
Can people who requested absentee ballots by mail change their minds and vote in-person instead? And what keeps them from voting twice?
 
Yes. Voters who have already returned an absentee ballot by mail may appear in person at their clerk's office until 5 p.m. the Thursday before the election and ask to have that ballot spoiled so the clerk can issue a new absentee ballot which can be voted in-person.

Voters who've received an absentee ballot will have a watermark on their name in the poll book indicating an absentee ballot has been issued. This prompts poll workers to ask them if they've already returned their absentee ballot. As long as the answer is no, the voter can vote. If the voter has already returned her ballot, that will also be noted on the poll book, and the poll workers will not issue a new ballot. Voters do not need to bring their blank absentee ballot to the clerk's office or the polling place; they can destroy the ballot themselves.

Credits

Crystal Bui, KSTP

Copyright 2020 KSTP-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

Advertisement

Updated: Deaths investigated as homicide-suicide

Trees of Hope: MOCA support when Natalie needed it most

Trees of Hope: MOCA and the search for an early detection test

Bemidji man killed in hunting accident

Duluth police officer charged with two felonies related to a shooting

Walz says details coming on first vaccines for Minnesota