531K Minnesotans have requested absentee ballots ahead of election in pandemic

With the primary just days away, the City of Minneapolis is already testing the voting machines.

This election cycle, there has been plenty of scrutiny of vote counts and accuracy, particularly from the president. The machines in Minneapolis are always tested but there is extra effort this year to show the public how it's done and to ensure confidence in the election.

"All of our election equipment is tested," explained Minneapolis Director of Elections and Voter Services Grace Wachlarowicz. "Not only once, but twice.”

In fact, it’s the law. Mock ballots are run through each machine to ensure it reads every candidate, every vote.

"And this is an opportunity for the media and the public to actually view a second test and verify so that we have the confidence on Election Day that all ballots will be properly cast," said Wachlarowicz.

The president is not so sure. He’s repeatedly raised doubt about the number of mail-in ballots expected this year. He openly questioned on Twitter this Thursday whether the election should be delayed so people can securely vote. It cannot.

But former Attorney General Eric Holder told FOX 9 on Friday that he has concerns, too.

"I don’t think the states have all the money that they need to do a vote by mail effort in a really successful way," said Holder. "So I would hope that Congress, as a part of the COVID relief bill, would move $3 billion to the states, so that states will have the capacity to meet this increased demand for voting at home."

The pandemic and stories of primary election woes in Wisconsin and Georgia this spring are driving voters to mail-in ballots in record numbers. As of this week, 531,000 Minnesotans have requested absentee ballots with at least 87,000 of those in Minneapolis.

"But it’s a really powerful number," said Wachlarowicz. "Ten times what we had two years ago, almost 20 times what we had four years ago. And at that rate, we’re going to smash a lot of records.”

And it has election workers in the spotlight to ensure confidence in every vote.

"We have been working around the clock to make sure that it is safe and secure," Wachlarowicz added.

If you are voting in the primary by mail, you have until the day before to drop them in the mail. But with so many ballots out there, the city clerk is begging you to mail them as soon as possible.