Election Day 2016 arrives on Nov. 8, but there’s no need to wait: Minneapolis residents can vote by mail or in-person at one of the city’s four early vote centers beginning Sept. 23.
This is the first presidential election year since state law changed to allow for no-excuses absentee voting, meaning any eligible voter can vote early for any reason. City election officials say voting early is a way to avoid Election Day lines, and it can ease the process for those that require special accommodations or assistance to vote.
Anissa Hollingshead, communications and outreach manager for the Minneapolis City Clerk’s office, said voters should be able to get in and out of an early vote center in just 5–10 minutes if they follow three key steps:
— Voters should check to make sure they’re registered to vote or pre-register online by visiting vote.minneapolismn.gov/voters/register.
— Fill out an absentee ballot application in advance. Applications are available for download at vote.minneapolismn.gov/voters/absentee.
— Review a sample ballot to prepare for voting. Sample ballots are available at vote.minneapolismn.gov/voters/ballot.
Early voters may also register to vote and complete absentee ballot applications when they arrive at an early voting center. The preregistration deadline is Oct. 18, but state law allows voters to register in-person at an early voting center or at their polling place on Election Day.
Minneapolis residents can cast a ballot at any of the four early voting centers. The locations are:
— Downtown Early Vote Center, 217 S. 3rd St. (City Services Building)
— North Early Vote Center, 2100 Plymouth Ave. N (Minneapolis Urban League)
— South Early Vote Center, 1860 E. 28th St. (former Roof Depot building)
— Northeast Early Vote Center, 2516 Central Ave. NE (Water Bar building)
The early voting centers remain open through Election Day eve on Nov. 7. Hours are 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. for the first few weeks and expand to 7 a.m.–6 p.m. after Oct. 24.
Hollingshead said the city wasn’t quite sure what to expect in terms of turnout. Asked about the estimated budget impact on the City Clerks Office, she said that information was not yet available.
Paper ballots cast within a week of Election Day go directly into vote tabulators for counting. Votes cast earlier in the absentee-voting period will be placed in envelopes and held in a secure location at the early vote centers before being transferred to City Hall, Hollingshead said.
Absentee voters who change their minds may request to cancel their ballots, but must do so before the close of the business day one week prior to Election Day (which this year would be 5 p.m. on Oct. 31).
The offices on this year’s ballot include: president and vice president; U.S. representative (District 5); state senator; state representative; judicial offices; and Minneapolis Board of Education (districts 2, 4, 6 and at-large).
For those who wish to wait until Election Day to vote, polls will be open 7 a.m.–8 p.m. To find your polling place, go to vote.minneapolismn.gov/voters/where-to-vote.