By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This may be the day after the first presidential debate, but voter registration efforts and even voting in the presidential race are already under way in Minnesota – which has one of the earliest voting starts in the nation.

Tuesday is the third day that Minnesota voters could cast their ballots for president and other races.

The University of Minnesota held a rally to get students, like Kristi Klammer from Milwaukee, to register.

“This is the first time that I can vote in a presidential election and I am very excited about it,” Klammer said.

Minnesota has often topped the nation in turnout in presidential elections. A record was set in 2004 when nearly 78 percent of Minnesotans cast ballots in the showdown between George W. Bush and John Kerry.

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon says this year could even top that.

“Last week. Friday alone, we had 27,000 people register to vote online,” Simon said. “The previous record was 7,600 for a single day.”

Another factor is that this is the first presidential election in Minnesota where there is a no excuses needed for absentee ballot voting, which started last Friday.

More than 2,000 voters, including Michael Spellman, have cast ballots so far in Hennepin County alone.

“I fly for a living and a lot of times I am not here on Election Day, and usually the lines are so long, especially in a presidential election,” Spellman said.

Hennepin County election officials say the early voting is going smoothly so far.

The ballots cast now will remain in sealed envelopes until Nov. 1, one week before the election, when election officials will start tallying them.

And if you vote early and you change your mind, you can get a do-over before Nov. 1.

“Because we haven’t opened any of those ballots and they are still in the secure place, we can pull a person’s exact ballot envelope and reject that ballot and have their new ballot and count that instead,” said Ginny Gelms, Hennepin County’s elections manager.

Despite all the changes this year, you can still register to vote in Minnesota on Election Day.

But if you want to register or even vote early and are looking for information on how to do so, you can go to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website.

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