Minnesota early voting turnout on pace with presidential election

- It’s still have one week until Election Day and yet plenty of people are already exercising their right to vote.

“I was really excited about it so I couldn’t wait,” said Arnav Dutt, an early voter.

Minnesota has traditionally led the nation in voter turnout, so it’s no surprise that early voting numbers are already through the roof.

“We are now on pace to match or maybe even exceed the pace we’re on in a presidential election for early votes. That is unheard of,” said Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon.

Election officials in Hennepin County say they’ve already received more than 80,000 absentee ballots, which is in line with what they saw for the 2016 election.

“Normally, we would compare it to a mid-term which was four years ago, but because we’re having so many people vote absentee, we’re actually comparing it to a presidential election,” said Hennepin County Elections Manager Ginny Gelms.

Until four years ago, Minnesotans who wanted to vote early had to give an excuse as to why they couldn’t show up on Election Day. Since the law changed, absentee voting has been on a constant incline.

“Since then, the percentage who vote absentee has gone from eight percent to 23 percent last election, so Minnesotans love this,” said Simon. 

The option is so popular, Minneapolis announced Tuesday it was opening three additional early vote centers. But don't wait too long to exercise your right or you may be waiting in line either way.

“If you wait until Friday, Saturday, day before the Election Day, that’s when we see the longest lines and sometimes now actually we see longer lines on the day before the election than if you had gone to your polling place on Election Day," said Gelms.

The deadline to send ballots in by mail has passed. So if you have an absentee ballot filled out ready to mail, you'll need to bring it down to one of these centers.

For locations and hours of early voting centers across Minnesota visit MNvotes.org.

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