MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s still two weeks until Election Day, but the voting has already begun. For the first time in Minnesota, anyone can vote early.

Unlike previous years, you don’t need a reason to vote absentee.

Some early birds took advantage Tuesday, walking in to fill out absentee ballots at the Hennepin County Government building.  One of them was David Swedin.

“Not going to be available to get over to polls on Election Day and I wanted to get my vote in,” Swedin said.

Swedin voted absentee. So did Dawn Nesja.

“It’s just convenience really. You don’t have to go hunting down or standing in lines. It’s just easy,” Nesja said.

And now anyone can do it.

“They can vote absentee for any reason or no reason whatsoever. And that’s the first time that we’ve had that in Minnesota,” Ginny Gelms, Elections Manager at Hennepin County, said.

And voters can fill out those ballots in person just about any time leading up to the election in Hennepin County. That includes weekdays starting at 7 a.m. and for the next two weekends.

“The hope is to make it more convenient for voters to submit a ballot at their time of choosing and perhaps increase turnout,” Gelms said.

So far they’ve seen a 55 percent increase over past midterm elections.

“We are seeing an increase from similar elections in the past,” Gelms said.

Voting early does require filling out an extra paper, an application.

It’s a new system giving voters yet another choice.

If you want to do it all from home, you can go online and have a ballot mailed to you.

Check with your local election hours to see in-person voting hours.

Hennepin Government Complex Absentee Voting Hours are as follows:

October 25 – 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Saturday)

October 27 – October 31 – 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Mon – Fri)

November 1 – 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Saturday)

November 3 – 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Monday)

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

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