Voting 101: Who, where, when

  • Article by: Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 19, 2012 - 11:47 AM

Everything you need to know about voting in Minnesota.

Who can vote

With a few exceptions, any U.S. citizen, at least 18 years old, who has lived in Minnesota for 20 days is eligible to vote.

(Exceptions include someone who is under a court-ordered guardianship in which the right to vote has been revoked or a person who is considered legally incompetent to vote, as determined by a court. In addition, a person who has been convicted of a felony may vote only if the felony sentence has expired or has been discharged by a court.)

When to vote

Polls generally are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. In some rural townships, polls open at 10 a.m. Under state law, employees who are eligible to vote have the right to be away from work for the time necessary to go to their polling place, vote and return to work, without being penalized or having their pay deducted.

Where to vote

Contact your county elections office, or the Minnesota Secretary of State's office.

Register to vote

You can register at your polling place on Election Day. You must provide proof of your identity and where you live. You may use any of the following:

  • Valid Minnesota driver's license, Minnesota learner's permit or Minnesota identification card (or receipt for any of these) with your current name and address in the precinct.
  • Tribal ID containing your name, signature and photo and address in the precinct.
  • Valid student ID including your photo, if your college has given a student housing list to election officials.
  • Valid registration in the same precinct under a different name or address.
  • Notice of late registration sent by elections office (if you turned in a voter's registration application late).
  • Someone who is registered in the precinct where you live who can confirm your address with a signed oath (vouched-for voters cannot vouch for others).
  • An employee of a residential facility where you live who can confirm your address with a signed oath.

Or, you may provide a photo ID plus a current bill with your current name and address in the precinct:

  • Acceptable photo IDs (which may be expired or have an old address or no address): Minnesota driver's license, Minnesota ID, Minnesota post-secondary student ID, tribal ID, U.S. passport or U.S. military ID.
  • Acceptable bills (delivered by mail or electronically):
  1. Any of the following utility bills due within 30 days of today's primary: phone (landline, cell, VOIP, etc.); TV (cable, satellite, etc.); Internet services; electric, gas, water, sewer or solid waste.
  2. Rent statement that itemizes utilities and is dated within 30 days of the primary.
  3. A current student fee statement that contains the student's valid address in the precinct.

Absentee voting

Absentee voting begins 30 days before each election. You can vote by absentee ballot if you can’t vote in person on Election Day because you are:

  • Away from your precinct.
  • Ill or disabled.
  • Serving as an election judge in another precinct.
  • Unable to go to the polling place because of a religious holiday or beliefs.

You can apply for an absentee ballot at your city elections office or download an application at a number of websites, including those maintained by the secretary of State, many counties and cities.

You may mail in your absentee ballot or cast it in person at your county elections office during regular office hours.

If you cast your ballot by mail, it must arrive by 3 p.m. on Election Day at the office that issued it.

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