MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — With November’s general election just 102 days away, Minnesota’s primary election is creeping up even faster.

On Aug. 11, voters will either go to the polls in person, or must have their mail-in ballots postmarked.

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon says “every person this year who votes by mail is making the polling place a little bit safer for those who chose the regular option.”

According to Simon, COVID-19 is driving the necessary changes. Already, nearly 470,000 Minnesotans have requested to vote absentee. That’s an amazing 12-times the number requesting mail in voting at this point in 2018.

This year’s demand obliterates the demand in the 2016 Presidential election, when only 20,000 absentee ballots were requested by July 24.

“So, we are magnitudes above where we were in the last two years and four years,” Simon said. “I think that’s because people realize it’s very safe and secure way to vote this year. Just to get rid of any risk is to have ballots come to you at your home.”

At the Minneapolis elections and voter service center on East Hennepin Avenue, it’s a steady stream.

“We are processing as quickly as possible getting those ballots out,” director Grace Wachlarowicz said.

However, there’s some confusion among voters regarding multiple mailings of applications from well-intended voter rights groups. Those groups are mailing out applications to voters directly in hopes of encouraging more early voting.

“If you’ve applied, don’t worry, you’ll be getting a ballot. If you’ve already sent back a completed ballot, don’t worry, we have it and it will be counted,” Wachlarowicz said.

Rest assured, if you’ve already applied for an absentee ballot, you should disregard any other applications that come in the mail. And Secretary of State Simon says there are protections against mail ballot fraud. Each ballot has a unique identifier only the individual voter knows.

For anyone sending in multiple applications for an absentee ballot, only one will trigger a ballot being sent out.

For more information on voting early or applying for an absentee ballot, click here.

Bill Hudson

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