MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Last week’s ruling by the 8th District Circuit Court means that absentee ballots must be returned by 3 p.m. on election day, or voters can vote in person until 8 p.m. when the polls close.

But there are still so many questions remaining about absentees that come in after Election Day and whether they will be counted.

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For three months Minnesota voters were told their absentee ballots would be counted through November 10 as long as they were postmarked by Election Day, but then came the ruling late last week saying any votes coming in after election day will be separated out and it’s not clear if they will be counted.

To date, Minnesotans have requested 1.9 million absentee ballots. But only 1.5 million have actually been returned which means almost 400,000 ballots are still out there somewhere.

While Republicans are praising the court ruling, Democrats are worried it will hurt them because they have been voting early in much higher numbers. And of course, it’s not just the Presidential race that is at stake, there are the U.S. Senate race, Congressional races and local and legislative races that are often decided by just a few hundred votes.

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The Chairs of both Minnesota’s Republicans and Democratic parties were guests on WCCO Sunday Morning.

“I believe if there are close races there will be lawsuits on either side to make sure those ballots are in fact counted but we should never have to be in that position,” Minnesota DFL Chair Ken Martin said.

“I am certain there is going to be some follow up after November 3, but in the meantime, if folks have a ballot go in and return it in person and cast your ballot,” Minnesota GOP Chair Jennifer Carnahan said.

The Secretary of State has chosen not to try and get the ruling at least temporarily stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court before the election.

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So for now everyone is focusing on getting people to get their ballots in by Election Day. What happens to those late-arriving ballots and whether they will be counted, will be decided likely by a court after the election.

Esme Murphy