Voting and COVID-19: What You Should Know

The City of Minneapolis is working closely with the Minnesota Department of Health and Hennepin County to stay prepared and respond to coronavirus disease, or COVID-19. We are relying heavily on the CDC Recommendations for Election Polling Locations and the recommendations from the Minnesota Department of Health.

We’re doing everything we can to ensure a safe election season for you. We’ll update this page as conditions change. The best way to track election news in Minneapolis is to follow us on social media (TwitterFacebookInstagram

Our recommendation for you: stay at home and vote by mail

To minimize direct contact with others, the CDC encourages you to vote by mail. All Minnesota voters are eligible to vote by mail. It’s easy to vote by mail, just as long as you plan ahead a bit. 

  • You may apply online for your ballot now
  • We’ll mail your ballot to you about 6 weeks before Election Day, beginning on June 26 for the August Primary and on September 18 for the November General Election.
  • Learn more about how you can vote by mail.
Due to a recent court action (in late June), some of the requirements for voting by mail have changed. These affect witness requirements and the deadline for returning your ballot. Currently, these changes ONLY apply to the August 11 State Primary. The changes are reflected throughout the information below. 

50 Minneapolis polling places have changed

We relocated 50 polling places in Minneapolis to protect those living in residential facilities and to use larger spaces better suited for implementing social distancing. Though 94 polling locations will be open on Election Day (August 11 and November 3), we are encouraging voting by mail to minimize direct contact with others.  

If you plan to vote in person on Election Day, be sure to look up your polling place. We have COVID-19 Polling Place Protocols in place to provide a safe and healthy environment for all voters and election judges. The protocols follow best practices from the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, the protocols follow Emergency Regulation 2020-12, which requires people in Minneapolis to wear a cloth face covering when they are in an indoor space.

Common questions and concerns 

Why should I vote by mail?

To reduce direct contact with others, the CDC encourages you to vote by mail. All Minnesota voters are eligible to vote by mail.

I want to vote by mail. How does it work?

You can apply online now for a ballot. As soon as your ballot is ready (after early voting opens), we’ll mail it to you. Early voting begins on June 26 for the State Primary and on September 18 for the General Election.

Read and follow the instructions that come with your ballot carefully. You may need a witness* when you vote and complete your ballot. The witness can be either a registered Minnesota voter or a notary.

Mail the ballot and forms back right away after you finish. Plan ahead, and return your ballot by the stated deadline to be sure your vote is counted!

*Witness requirements:
For the August 11 State Primary: If you are registered to vote at your current address, you will not need a witness. If you have moved, changed names or need to register for the first time, you will need a witness to sign your envelope. 

  • How do I know if I am registered at my current address? In addition to checking your registration online, your mail ballot will come with a pink insert that says if you are registered at your current address (and so don’t need a witness), or need to update or register for the first time (and so will need a witness). The instructions included with your ballot will be yellow if you do not need a witness and green if you do need a witness. Both instruction sheets will clearly state any necessary steps.
  • I think I’m registered at my current address, but my materials say I need to re-register. What should I do? If you believe you are registered at your current address but you get materials saying you need to update your registration, please fill out the registration materials and return them. Sometimes there is a timing issue between your registration application and your application for a mail ballot, and other times there may be a question about your address that must be verified by having you re-register. For any questions, please call 311.
For the November 3 General Election: You will need a witness when you vote and complete your ballot. The witness can be either a registered Minnesota voter or a notary. Your witness must sign the signature envelope and list their address. Notaries should write their name and title, sign the signature envelope, and affix their notary stamp.

What’s the deadline to return my mail ballot?

Plan ahead! We suggest you mail your ballot back no later than seven days before Election Day. Return your ballot by mail using the pre-paid postage envelope. You can also send it by package delivery service (such as FedEx or UPS) or drop it off in-person (see following question and answer).

For the August 11 State Primary: Your ballot will count as long as it is postmarked on or before Election Day (August 11) and is received in the mail no later than two days after Election Day (by August 13). This is a change from previous election law requiring mail ballots to be received by Election Day. Please note that if you deliver your ballot in-person to our office, it still must be returned by 3 p.m. on Election Day.

For the November 3 General Election: We must get your ballot back by Election Day. For your ballot to count, we must physically have it in hand on Election Day. Your ballot will not count if we get it after Election Day, even if it was postmarked on or before Election Day.

Can I drop my ballot off in-person rather than mail it back?

Yes. Bring your ballot to our office at 980 E. Hennepin Ave or to the Hennepin County Government Center. The deadline to drop off in person is 3 p.m. on Election Day.

Can I still vote in-person if I want to?

Yes.

In Minneapolis, you always have two options for voting in-person. The first is to vote early in-person at our Minneapolis Early Vote Center or at the Hennepin County Government Center. You will have some direct contact with poll workers, but you may have contact with fewer people overall, especially during the first few weeks of early voting.

Secondly, you can vote in-person on Election Day. This option may have the greatest potential for direct contact with others; please be aware that wait times may be longer than usual. If you plan to vote in person on Election Day, be sure to look up your polling place. We have relocated 50 polling places in Minneapolis to protect those living in residential facilities and to use larger spaces better suited for implementing social distancing.

Will polling places be open on Election Day? Will any be relocated?

Yes, polling places will be open on Election Day. We have relocated 50 polling places in Minneapolis to protect those living in residential facilities and to use larger spaces better suited for implementing social distancing. If you plan to vote in person on Election Day, be sure to look up your polling place. Registered voters will also get a postcard in the mail indicating their new polling place.

What are you doing to prevent virus transmission in polling places?

How do I know that my mail ballot is safe to open? (i.e. germs) 

The CDC says that coronavirus transmission from mail is unlikely. However, they recommend washing your hands after collecting mail from a post office or home mailbox.

What laws are in place to make voting by mail secure?

Each and every ballot we receive must be inspected closely by two election officials for the following:

  • The voter’s name and address on the envelope matches the application.
  • The voter has not already voted in the election in person or by mail.
  • The voter has signed on the back of the envelope.
  • The voter has provided the same identification number on the signature envelope as on the application. Otherwise, the signature must be matched to the signature on the application form.
  • The voter is registered and eligible to vote in the precinct or has included a properly completed registration application with proof of residence marked on the signature envelope.
  • A witness has signed the statement on the signature envelope, and has provided a Minnesota residential address or has affixed a notary stamp.

Your ballot application and signature envelopes are kept on file for 22 months in case any questions or concerns arise that need to be investigated.

How do I know my mail ballot was counted?

You can confirm we have received and counted your ballot using the online tracking tool. By law, we count every properly returned ballot we receive by the deadline. See below for ballot deadlines.  

Can I drop off another voter’s ballot?

Yes. You can drop off ballots for up to three other voters. You will need to show identification with name and signature when returning a ballot for someone else.

Be sure to bring the ballot(s) to 980 E. Hennepin Ave or to the Hennepin County Government Center. The deadline to drop off in person is 3 p.m. on Election Day.

Will my ballot count as long as it is postmarked by Election Day?

Plan ahead. To be safe, we recommend you return your ballot in the mail no later than seven days before Election Day.

For the August 11 State Primary: Your ballot will count as long as it is postmarked on or before Election Day (August 11) and is received in the mail no later than two days after Election Day (by August 13). This is a change from previous election law requiring mail ballots to be received by Election Day. Please note that if you deliver your ballot in-person to our office, it still must be returned by 3 p.m. on Election Day.

For the November 3 General Election: We must get your ballot back by Election Day. For your ballot to count, we must physically have it in hand on Election Day. Your ballot will not count if we get it after Election Day, even if it was postmarked on or before Election Day.

Can I drop off my ballot at my polling place on Election Day?

No, you cannot! Bring your ballot to our office at 980 E. Hennepin Ave or to the Hennepin County Government Center. The deadline to drop off in person is 3 p.m. on Election Day.

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Minneapolis 311
Can Help

Contact Minneapolis 311 Monday–Friday 7 a.m.–7 p.m. for election and other city information. From outside city limits, dial 612-673-3000.