By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota early voting continues to shatter records, but concerns are growing about the hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots that have not yet been returned.

To date, more than 2 million absentee ballots have been requested in Minnesota. Of those, 1.7 million have already been returned, leaving more than 338,000 still outstanding.

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Amid the efforts to get those ballots in, there are rising concerns about legal challenges after the election.

“Don’t put it in the mail, in order for it to be sure that it is counted it has to arrive by tomorrow,” Secretary of State Steve Simon said.

Simon again made the plea that, because of last week’s court ruling, voters need to deliver their absentee ballot in person by 3 p.m. on Election Day or vote in person.

Simon says absentee ballots that are postmarked Tuesday but arrive after Election Day, but before Nov. 10 will, as the court ordered, be separated out. But he says they will still be counted and added to vote totals, even though they could be thrown out at a later date in the event of a court challenge.

“I don’t know what this court will do, I can’t predict,” Simon said.

WEB EXTRA: Click here for WCCO’s Election Guide.

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Simon says the court order appears to apply only to the presidential race, but it’s not clear.

“Are you telling voters your ballots might not count in the presidential race? We think they are going to count in statewide and local legislative races but we can’t be sure?” Esme Murphy asked.

“Thats a fair question, I mean in essence that is what we are saying,” Simon said.

Despite the court order, Simon says the surge in voting likely means that Minnesota could beat its modern record for voter turn out of 77%, set in 2008.

“All I know is it’s pretty electric out there on all sides,” Simon said. “By the way, equal opportunity electricity on the left, right, red, blue. People are fired up to vote.”

The Department of Justice is sending monitors to Minneapolis to investigate potential civil rights violations on Election Day. The city is one of 44 places in 18 states to get these monitors. A Department of Justice spokesperson tells us they’ll work in teams of two and will be stationed outside polling places, not inside.

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The Department of Justice says Minneapolis was chosen after an “assessment,” but did not give specifics.

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