Minneapolis elections office to mail out more absentee ballots for 2020 primary than 2016 general election

Minneapolis's early voting center said it will mail out more than 24,000 absentee ballots, which is 4,000 more than it sent out in the 2016 general election.

Early voting starts Friday for the primary election coming up on Aug. 11, but because of the pandemic, election officials are urging people to vote by mail.

Voters are already responding to their request in record numbers, as the Minneapolis Elections office plans to mail out more than 24,000 absentee ballots Friday morning. In 2016, 20,000 absentee ballots were requested for the general election.

Outside the office, Elections Director Grace Wochlarowicz is getting ready for curbside voting.

“So you will drive up, you will request an absentee ballot because you are unable to, for some reason, to enter a facility, and the whole voting process will be done here,” said Wochlarowicz.

Even the wait lines are re-designed with six feet between people and plexiglass. All of it is being done to ensure not just safety, but confidence.

Another adjustment for this primary only is the signature on the mail-in ballot. After a court order this week, the Secretary of State’s Office has posted a new rule for COVID-19 that no witness signature is required for registered voters for the primary. Those who are not registered or who need to change their registration still need a witness.

The push for vote-by-mail comes after long lines of frustrated voters in Wisconsin during its Presidential primary in April.

In Minneapolis alone, election workers are preparing for as much as half of all ballots to come by mail.

If you live in Minneapolis and need help in filling out your absentee ballot, the Voter Services Office is located at 980 East Hennepin Avenue. It’s just a block west of I-35W. This is going to be different for a lot of voters.

With the possibility of half of the votes coming in by mail, Wochlarowicz warned that her office will not be getting instant results as the polls close on primary election night.