Minnesota officials don't expect mail-in ballots to significantly delay election results

Election Day is just 59 days away. This year, a record number of Minnesotan will vote with absentee ballots. And there are already questions about what that will mean for getting quick election results on Election Night.

So far, Minnesota voters are requesting absentee ballots at a historic pace: 802,000 ballots will start getting mailed out next Friday.

National and local polling suggests more Biden than Trump supporters are intending to vote by mail or absentee. The latest Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll in August showed 47 percent of Biden supporters and just 11 percent of President Trump supports intend to vote by mail.

If that trend extends to Minnesota, does it mean that more Trump votes will get counted first on election night leading to lopsided early returns?

Secretary of State Steve Simon says that is won’t necessarily be the case.

"And it certainly is possible that one candidate’s supporters may be lopsidedly represented among those who vote in person and those in another who vote by mail," explained Simon. "But even if that’s the case, I do suspect that the vast majority, even of the absentee ballots, will be in very early. They’ll be in if not on election night then very soon thereafter, and then probably a lower percentage will trickle in those last five or six days.”

In anticipation of the growth in absentee ballots, the state legislature has allowed city and county election officials to start tabulating those ballots two weeks ahead of Election Day.

The results of those ballots will then be immediately added to the in-person vote after the polls close on November 3.

"I strongly suspect that on election night or shortly thereafter we will know the vast majority of outcomes," said Simon. "We will know the winners.  We might not know the final numbers, how much they won by or what percentage of votes, but I think we’re going to know the majority of the winners. That was certainly true on primary night."

The bottom line is, we will likely know the winners on the election night, but not the final vote totals until one week later when the last of the absentee ballots trickle in.