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Secretary of State backing vote by mail

ST. PAUL — The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of institutions to change the ways they operate.

Schools and businesses have made adaptions to keep people safe. As this is an election year, the way Americans vote also will look different.

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon is encouraging all Minnesotans to vote from home this election season. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3.

“During a pandemic, we have to view this election as a public health challenge,” he said.

Simon said that in a normal year the appeal of voting from home is comfort and convenience. But this year it is also a public service. Keeping polling places less crowded will allow for better social distancing and will help slow the spread of the virus.

On Sept. 17, the state began sending Minnesotans who are registered to vote and who have not yet received an absentee ballot a mailing with information on voting from home. The mailing included an absentee ballot application.

“This mailing is all about making sure Minnesota voters know that voting from home is easy, safe and secure,” Simon said.

More than 86,000 Minnesotans have requested an absentee ballot to date. Still, more than 2 million registered voters have not.

The mailings are funded by funds that Minnesota received through the federal CARES ACT for the specific purpose of administering elections during a pandemic.

Minnesota allows any voter to request a ballot by mail. However, they can still vote in person. Minnesota also offers early voting.

To vote by mail, apply to have an absentee ballot mailed to you. This can be done online at www.mnvotes.org

To get an absentee ballot mailed to you, voters need to be eligible to register and vote in Minnesota, an email address and an identification number, such as a driver’s license, ID card or the last four digits of your Social Security number.

Even if you do not have an email address, you can apply for an absentee ballot with a paper form. Absentee ballot applications can be returned to your county election office by mail, fax or email.

Because of COVID-19, there is no witness requirement for registered voters for the general election. If you are not registered to vote, you will need a witness to indicate proof of residence.

Your return ballot must be postmarked on or before election day and received by your county within the next seven calendar days.

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