Avoid the crowds yet make your voice heard with absentee voting
With presidential, Congressional, state and local races on the ballot, there is likely to be tremendous turnout at this year’s general election, Nov. 4. Voting places are likely to be overwhelmed by voters. Further compounding the challenges faced by such turnout is that while voting places are required to accommodate disabled voters, they may not always have enough personnel or resources to keep the voting process moving at a desirable pace.
Fortunately, there is an easy solution to avoiding the expected hassle at voting places: absentee voting. It is a method of voting in the event that a voter is unable to reach the voting place on primary or general election day. The ability to vote on your own time is both convenient and nearly hassle-free, and persons with disabilities can take advantage of this service. If you have never absentee voted before, why not try it for the September 9 primary election?
Absentee voting may be done by mail. Or voters can go to designated voting places during the time period preceding the election. Voters vote in the county where they live, so contact the appropriate county offices. For the September 9 primary election, absentee voting began August 8 and ends September 8. Voters may download an application to receive an absentee ballot through the mail at www.sos.state.mn.us/docs/ab_application.doc. When at the site voters will be asked to save or open a document, and mark boxes by clicking on them. When the document is filled out, send it to the appropriate county auditor by email (with the document attached) or fax. The ballot will be mailed out when it is ready (as early as 30 days before election day). The completed absentee ballot must be received in the correct precinct by election day when the polls close, or it will not be counted, so be sure to send in your absentee ballot application early. The ballots are delivered by county staff to the precinct on the day of the election.
Hennepin and Ramsey counties election staff said that absentee voting increases the ability for people to vote. It gives people who would not normally be able to reach a polling place a chance to vote.
Voters can, in writing, authorize someone to deliver a completed absentee ballot if the voter is:
• a voter who would have difficulty getting to the polls because of incapacitating health reasons or who is disabled
• a patient in a healthcare facility (hospitals, residential treatment centers and nursing homes)
• a participant in a licensed residential program for adults
• a resident of a licensed shelter for battered women
• a resident of an assisted living facility
According to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website, the following stipulations also apply: The voter must complete the Agent Delivery Designation Form www.sos.state.mn.us/docs/agent_request_form.pdf and the Absentee Ballot Application www.sos.state.mn.us/docs/ab_application.doc An agent (person dropping off the ballot on the voter’s behalf) must have a preexisting relationship with the voter. The agent will use the completed forms to pick up a ballot, bring the ballot to the voter, and return the voted ballot to the county auditor or city clerk. This activity may only occur the seven days preceding an election. Ballots can be picked up until 2 p.m. on election day, and voted ballots must be returned by 3 p.m. on election day.
Mistakes will mean your absentee ballot will not be counted. Some common mistakes made in absentee voting are not signing the application, not signing the voter’s certificate or not having it properly witnessed. Also, note that you cannot drop off an absentee ballot at a voting place on election day. Absentee voting ends the day before election day.
For more information, visit the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website’s page on absentee voting at www.sos.state.mn.us/home/index.asp?page=211, or call your county’s elections office. Phone and fax numbers for each county are available at the end of the absentee ballot application. This information was compiled from the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office, and the Hennepin and Ramsey counties elections staff.
This information was compiled by Access Press staff. Read more about the AutoMark voting machine