MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Twelve days before the election, and tens of thousands of Minnesotans have already cast their ballots, according to Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.

Minnesota voters have so far asked for 180,000 absentee ballots, Ritchie said . And 114,383 have already been returned.

The Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office expects nearly 300,000 voters to cast absentee ballots by Election Day. That’s roughly the same pace as four years ago.

Voting in person is still a tradition. But all across the country, absentee voting and early voting have become some of the most important campaign tools.

Voters in two-thirds of states have already begun casting absentee ballots, like Minnesota. And some states now allow voting by mail.

Minnesota won’t open any of its absentee ballots until election night. But in some states, like Ohio, the absentee and early votes are already getting counted, and President Barack Obama holds an early 60 percent to 30 percent lead.

Absentee ballots can also be controversial, as seen in the U.S. Senate recount between Al Franken and Norm Coleman, which Franken won by 312 votes. During the recount, 12,000 absentee ballots were rejected for a number of reasons, such as illegibility or a missing signature.

How long do voters have to send in absentee ballots?

There is still plenty of time to apply for an absentee ballot online or at your county auditor’s office. But the vote must be delivered and received by Election Day.

Voters can track ballots online — just like tracking a purchase — by checking out the Secretary of State’s website.


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