Absentee voting now underway for the Primary

Friday, June 24, was the first day of absentee voting for the 2016 primary, and the City’s Elections & Voter Services (EVS) team rolled out the red carpet to welcome voters. For the first time ever, in-person early voters were welcomed at a dedicated facility one block from City Hall, the newly opened Early Vote Center located at 217 S. Third St.

In total, more than 1,135 voters were served on the first day of the 46 day absentee voting period.

Of that total—
  • 413 (about 36%) were in-person absentee voters served at the Early Vote Center
  • 722 (about 64%) were mail ballots sent to voters by request
Friday’s totals are on par with the level of in-person absentee voting experienced in the 2014 Primary Election. That year, on the first day of record-breaking absentee voting, the City’s EVS team served 403 voters in-person, building to a total of 3,930 absentee ballots — about 13.5% of the 29,129 ballots cast in that year’s primary. As was the case in 2014, turnout has been focused in precincts with competitive house district seats on the ballot. What is notably different this year is the number of absentee ballot applications received and processed for mail-out requests as the absentee voting period started. In 2014, 480 absentee ballot applications were processed on the first day of absentee voting. By contrast, this year, the total number of mail-out requests processed on the first day of absentee voting was 1,008 applications, resulting in a total of 722 ballots actually being mailed to voters on Friday. This is a huge increase from 2014, and could mark a much higher number of mail ballots in this year's primary. In 2014, the majority of absentee votes cast in the primary were completed in person, while for the November General Election, the majority of absentee votes were submitted by mail. 

The first day of in-person voting at the new Early Vote Center went very well on the whole.. The new facility is not as expansive as the City Hall Rotunda used for in-person absentee voting when available since 2013, and staff has been working hard to design optimal options for voter flow. Voters are already benefiting from significantly increased privacy and security, as well as easier access. Wait times were tracked randomly throughout the day, and at most points during the day voters were able to quickly move through the polling place. By unofficial estimates, the longest waits at points when turnout peaked during the day were running about 40-45 minutes.

Early in-person voting is convenient. It especially helps voters who need special accommodations, such as language support, by providing the extra time, attention and onsite resources that early in-person voting can afford more readily than the polls might on Election Day. Standard hours throughout the absentee voting period are 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. During the final two weeks before each election, these hours are extended and include weekend hours.

Voters who choose to vote early by mail just need to submit an absentee ballot application to have a ballot sent to them along with a postage paid envelope to return that ballot. This can be done by completing the application online or by completing a paper application and submitting by mail, email, fax, or in person to the Elections Office. Get downloadable forms available in 11 languages and full instructions for returning the application and mail ballots on the absentee voting section of vote.minneapolismn.gov.

Elections & Voter Services
City Hall, 350 S. 5th St., Room 201
Minneapolis, MN 55415