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A Matter of Facts: Voting by mail in Minnesota

By July 15, 2020September 16th, 2023No Comments

URGENT: Courts have ruled that mailed ballots must arrive at the county election office/Secretary of State’s office by 8 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday Nov. 3. Ballots mailed today or later may not arrive in time to be counted.


You have three other options:

    1. Drop your ballot off at the county election office. View locations
    2. There are extended hours, including weekend voting, at in-person early voting locations. A list of locations is in the FAQ section of
    3. Vote on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3

There is an absentee ballot dropbox for Minneapolis Voters at the east entrance of Northrop. If you need a ride to the polls, the Minnesota Student Association is reimbursing for rideshare costs at

By Alicia Kubas and Del Reed
Libraries Civic Engagement Committee

Envelope with Vote by mail on textThe next election in Minnesota is the State Primary on August 11 to choose the DFL and Republican nominees ahead of the November general election for seats in the U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and state legislature.

In order to vote by mail in Minnesota for the August 11 state primary election and/or the November general election, you must request an absentee ballot. There are also options to vote early in person and to still vote on election day at your polling place, but this article focuses on voting by mail via absentee ballot.

Spanish translation

You can apply for a ballot any time during the year, except the day of the election. Be sure to leave time for election officials to mail your ballot and for you to return it on or before Election Day or to have it postmarked by August 11.

While you do not need to be registered to vote in Minnesota to request an absentee  ballot, the process will be easier if you are already registered to vote. If you need to register or update your voter registration, you may want to do that online before applying for an absentee ballot.

See the Minnesota Secretary of State website about voting early by mail and the U of M Libraries voting FAQ for voting eligibility requirements and information on how to register.

Request an Absentee Ballot

To complete an absentee ballot application online, you must

  • be eligible to register and vote in Minnesota,
  • provide an email address, and
  • provide an identification number from a Minnesota issued driver’s license, a Minnesota ID card, or the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number.
  • If you are an active duty military or overseas voter, you must use the Special Application for Military and Overseas Voters.
  • If you have already submitted your application, do not submit another one. If you would like to check on the progress of your application, you can go to Absentee Ballot Lookup or contact your county election office.

Complete your ballot

  • Once you have received your mail-in ballot, carefully read the instructions that come with the ballot.
  • Your signature envelope might have a box for a witness to complete and sign. Due to COVID-19, there is no witness requirement for registered voters for the August 11, 2020 State Primary. Non-registered voters will still need a witness to indicate their proof of residence.
  • For the November general election, currently a witness is still needed regardless of registration status, but this may change.

 Return your ballot

  • You should mail your ballot and forms back as soon as you have finished. Your ballot must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by your county by the day before the county canvass, which may take place on the second or third day following the election (for example, in both Hennepin and Ramsey counties, ballots need to be received by August 13).
  • You can return your ballot by United States Postal Service or by a package delivery service such as FedEx or UPS.
  • You can also return your ballot in person no later than 3 p.m. on Election Day, but remember that it must be returned to whatever election office sent you the ballot.
  • You can also drop off ballots for up to 3 voters. You will need to show identification with your name and signature when you are returning a ballot for someone else.
  • See the MN Secretary of State website about voting early by mail for more information.

Track your ballot

Check your Registration Status

For more information

University of Minnesota research and expertise

Lawrence R Jacobs: McKnight Presidential Chair in Public Affairs, the Walter F. and Joan Mondale Chair for Political Studies, and director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance in the Hubert H. Humphrey School and the Department of Political Science at the University of Minnesota

Alicia Kubas: Government Publications and Data Librarian

Jenny McBurney: Library Liaison to Political Science

Mark Engebretson

Author Mark Engebretson

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