Early voting, Minnesota style

  • Article by: KATIE HUMPHREY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 3, 2012 - 6:54 PM

Voters at Minneapolis City Hall turned in 220 absentee ballots on Saturday, far fewer than collected the same day four years ago.

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Absentee voters were allowed to cast their ballots in person in Minneapolis City Hall, Saturday, November 3, 2012. Absentee ballots will be counted on election day.

Photo: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

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A last-minute vacation to Arkansas almost derailed Charity Tuma's opportunity to cast a ballot. She'll be out of town on Election Day.

But a notice on Facebook led her to Minneapolis City Hall on Saturday morning, where she was one of 220 local voters casting their votes early via in-person absentee ballots.

"I was glad to see that," she said. "I was feeling bad that I wasn't going to be able to vote."

State law requires all county elections offices to be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. the Saturday before Election Day, giving people the opportunity to cast absentee ballots in person. Some cities also participate, including Minneapolis, which offered residents a chance to vote at City Hall until 5 p.m.

Any Minneapolis voters who said he or she wouldn't be able to make it to the polls was welcome to walk in, fill out some paper work, and cast their votes.

"This is the best option for someone who finds out, 'I can't be there [on Tuesday],'" said Casey Carl, Minneapolis city clerk.

The first voters on Saturday showed up two hours before the advertised start of voting, but Carl said the city was ready after a big early turnout in 2008. That year, more than 1,000 people filed through the rotunda to cast the early votes.

"At 8 o'clock, [we heard] knock, knock, knock. Can I vote?" Carl said. "They were here, ready to go."

After a steady trickle of voters through the morning, there was a rush at lunchtime and then fewer people casting ballots in the afternoon, he said.

Although the turnout wasn't as high as in 2008, Carl said city staffers believe they have received more absentee ballots by mail than in the past. As of Saturday, the city had accepted more than 9,000 ballots by mail.

Max Roberts was among those who showed up Saturday.

A Minneapolis resident and Gustavus Adolphus College student, he said he'll be outside his precinct at school on Tuesday. So he made the trek home to vote early.

"It feels like an important time," Roberts said, noting that his mother had been urging him to vote.

Others opted for the in-person absentee ballots because of worries about logistics on Election Day.

"I'm afraid there's going to be a lot of people and I'm not going to be able to stand in the line," said Mustafa Adam, who walks with a cane. "I'm glad I came to vote."

The absentee ballot voting locations will be closed on Sunday, but reopen at county election offices and select city locations, like Minneapolis City Hall, again on Monday until 5 p.m.

Polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

For more voter information, including addresses for Election Day polling places -- many of them changed because of redistricting -- go to www.mnvotes.org.

Katie Humphrey • 612-673-4758

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  • Absentee voters were allowed to cast ballots in person at Minneapolis City Hall on Saturday with the ballots counted on Election Day. The absentee ballot voting locations will be closed on Sunday, but reopen at county election offices and select city locations, like Minneapolis City Hall, again on Monday until 5 p.m.

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