ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - The election is still 26 days away, but nearly 90,000 Minnesotans have already voted. A slight change in election law, a change in voting habits, and a nasty presidential election are all combining to set new records in early voting numbers.
As of Oct. 13, Minneapolis has mailed out, or distributed in person, more than 22,000 ballots, and 8,000 ballots have already been turned in. That's a 221 percent increase over the number of completed ballots from the last presidential election.
At the Ramsey County elections office, about 150 voters per day are casting absentee ballots, and cities and counties across the state are mirroring the trend.
The Minnesota Secretary of State's Office says 208,000 people have requested ballots online or in person at their election sites, and 88,000 have already voted and turned them in. Compared to this same day on the last presidential election, that's a 114 percent increase on the number of completed ballots, and a 98 percent increase on the number of ballot requests.
“That's good for the people who do vote on Election Day because it means shorter lines, more parking spaces available,” said Ramsey County elections manager Joe Mansky. “It's really a win-win across the board."
The Republican and DFL parties, along with the presidential campaigns, have sharpened their strategies on locking up votes early. But for some voters, there's also election fatigue.
"This year I just wanted to get it over with,” said early voter Mary Trcka. “It's just so crazy with all the opinions and this way I can say I voted."
Technically, this is not real early voting -- it's absentee voting. The ballots you put in the envelope are not opened until November 2 when they start processing them, and none of them are counted until after 8 p.m. on election night.
Where to vote early in Minneapolis
Monday - Friday, from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Downtown Early Vote Center
217 S. Third St.
(3rd Ave and 3rd St, near City Hall)
North Early Vote Center
Minneapolis Urban League
2100 Plymouth Ave. N
South Early Vote Center
Roof Depot Building
1860 E 28th St.
Northeast Early Vote Center
Water Bar Building
2516 Central Ave. NE
During the final two weeks prior to the election, the in-person voting hours will be extended and will include weekend times. Starting Monday, Oct. 24, through Friday, Nov. 4, all early voting locations will be open Monday - Friday from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. Weekend hours on Oct. 29-30 and Nov. 5-6 will be Saturdays from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. and Sundays from noon until 5 p.m. On Monday, Nov. 7, the final day of in-person early voting, voters can visit any of the early voting locations between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Don't live in Minneapolis? Check the Secretary of State's location list at http://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/other-ways-to-vote/cities-and-towns-with-in-person-absentee-voting/