With a competitive gubernatorial primary, 15 legislative primaries and a new law allowing anyone to vote absentee, more Minnesotans are voting early.

According to the Secretary of State's office, as of Thursday more than 2,000 Minnesotans had successfully cast absentee ballots for the August 12th primary.

That's more than previous years at similar points in the election cycle. In 2010, by July 18, only 1,500 Minnesotans had cast absentee ballots. That year, the first when Minnesota had an August primary rather than an election in September, featured a DFL primary for governor as well as several hot local races.

This year, for the first time, Minnesotans do not need to give an excuse for why they want to vote absentee. That change, plus encouragement from political campaigns to vote early, may explain the uptick in absentee ballots.

Minnesotans can register to vote, request absentee ballots and track their ballots online at http://www.mnvotes.org.