Early voting underway Friday for the general election

Early voting in Minneapolis
Photo credit Entercom
By 830 WCCO

Early voting in Minnesota for the 2020 general election is underway. 

Doors to early voting centers opened Friday at 8:00 a.m.

There were lines at the door, with people bundled up against an unusal early-morning chill for Sept. 18.

" I like to vote early, election day can be a little chaotic, especially this year," said Jason Miller. "I had time on my schedule so I thought I would just get up and get it done, see if I could be the first person in line, and here I am."

With less than two months before election day, Miller said he won't change his mind about the boxes he's alread checked off.

"There's not a whole lot that I'm certain about in the universe, I am absolutely certain that I will not be changing my mind before election day," he said.

Others were in line on Friday because they'll be out of town come Nov. 3.

“Over 114,000 ballots. That’s phenomenal,” Grace Wachlarowicz, Minneapolis Director of Elections and Voter Services said. “There is no record that is even close to that. In the state primary, the first day was over 24,000 and we thought that was a lot. We thought the 2018 general was a record breaker with a measly 10,000.”

Wachlarowicz said 65 percent of voters cast a ballot by mail in the primary and the office is preparing for up to 70 percent.

Operations are moving to the Minneapolis Convention Center due to increased staff of up to 200 people and the need for social distancing in order to open, verify and prepare the ballots for tabulation. It is secure with 24-hour security and surveillance. 

Wachlarowicz said there are checks and balances in place to ensure one ballot per registered, legal voter.

“There is a series of documentation that when you vote in person it is updated in the database,” she explained. “On election day it’s noted in the roster you already cast a ballot, so you cannot. Likewise, if you go to the polls on election day and you’re not sure if your ballot was accepted you’ll know right then and there. If we haven’t received it because it was late in the mail, for example, we can say, ‘Your mail ballot has not been accepted. You can vote today.’ That record is documented so if we do receive that ballot later  it’ll be discarded.”

In-person voting is also available after what Wachlarowicz called a smooth primary. They redesigned the city’s election headquarters to allow more people safely inside in the case of bad weather.

Wachlarowicz says they’re researching locations for a mail-in ballot drop-off for those who want to vote early through mail, but also personally deliver the ballot instead.