The still-unresolved 2008 U.S. Senate race in Minnesota has put a spotlight on absentee voting that has not always been positive. A report out this week by the Delaware-based Overseas Vote Foundation puts Minnesota's 2008 experience in a more favorable light. This state led the nation in 2008 in increasing voter participation by overseas-based military voters, the foundation said.

A combination of better voter outreach, a customized, user-friendly web site, and state law changes that simplified the voting process produced a 64.4 percent military absentee ballot return rate in Minnesota, the foundation reported. That compares with a national average of only 26.2 percent. The foundation singled out Secretary of State Mark Ritchie for praise, crediting his personal interest in military voters as an impetus for effective changes.