Tricounty News

Absentee ballot availability

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie today reminded Minnesota voters that absentee ballots are now available. Absentee balloting provides voters the ability to participate in the general election even if they are away from home or cannot travel to their polling place on Election Day. "If you are unable to get to the polls on Election Day, vote by absentee to ensure your voice is heard this election year," said Ritchie. "Absentee voting provides Minnesotans flexibility and it is easy to do." Minnesotans eligible to vote in the 2008 general election may vote absentee for one of the following reasons: absence from the precinct on Election Day; illness or disability; religious discipline or religious holiday; or serving as an election judge in another precinct. Minnesota voters who want to vote absentee can do so in-person or by mail: • Option 1: Voters choosing to vote absentee in-person may visit their county auditor's office Monday-Friday during normal business hours. Absentee voting is also available on Saturday, Nov. 1, between the hours of 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 3, until 5 p.m. Many city and township clerks offer absentee voting at their offices. Some county auditors and clerks are offering additional extended hours. Voters may contact their local election official for more information or call the secretary of state's office at 1-877-600-VOTE. Voters choosing to vote in-person must remember to remove and completely cover any campaign related materials on their clothing before arriving at their local election office. State law strictly prohibits campaign materials including literature, buttons and T-shirts in polling locations. Voters may bring sample ballots from newspapers or campaign flyers into the voting booth, but should take great care not to display these materials outside the booth. • Option 2: Voters choosing to vote absentee by mail must obtain and complete an absentee ballot application. The form is available online at www.sos.state.mn.us or by contacting your county auditor or municipal clerk. Those serving in the military or are outside the U.S. may use the secretary of state's Military & Overseas Voter Service at minnesota.overseasvotefoun  dation.org to apply for an absentee ballot. Voters may submit their completed application by fax, mail or a scanned e-mail attachment to their county auditor. Upon receipt of your application, election officials will mail a ballot to you. Voters should complete and return their ballots quickly. To return a ballot, voters can mail it, use an express shipping service, or designate an agent to deliver their ballot as long as the agent is not their employer or union. Ballots must arrive back to a voter's county or local election office by Election Day to be counted. For more information about voting, visit the secretary of state's office online at www.sos.state.mn.us or call 1-877-600-VOTE.