Absentee voting for the Nov. 3 general election has opened today and voters are expected to use the absentee option more than ever before due to concerns over crowds at the polls amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because of concerns about community spread of COVID-19, the Wright County Elections Division of the Auditor/Treasurer’s Office is strongly encouraging voters to use the mail-in option, although it will accept any voter who wants to vote in person at the Wright County Government Center or the eight cities that do absentee voting in person.
To vote by mail, residents have to apply to have an absentee ballot that will be mailed out to them. You don’t need to be a pre-registered voter to apply. There are two ways to obtain an absentee ballot application. One is to fill out the application online at (https://mnvotes.sos.state.mn.us/ABRegistration/ABRegistrationStep1.aspx). The other is to print out a paper application for an absentee ballot to fill out and return. That can be found here: http://www.co.wright.mn.us/DocumentCenter/View/19570/Absentee-Ballot-Application-2020. Forms filled out online can be emailed to Wright County Elections at firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to Wright County Auditor/Treasurer’s Office, 10 Second St. NW, Room 230, Buffalo, MN 55313.
Once absentee applications have been received and completed, they are processed and a mail ballot packet is prepared and mailed to the applicants. The packet includes instructions, an official ballot, secrecy envelope, signature envelope, a Voter Registration Application (for non-registered voters) and a postage paid return envelope.
Absentee voters are told to follow the instructions provided in the ballot packet for voting and envelope sealing. Ballots and forms should be mailed back as soon as a possible once completed. Returned ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day (Nov. 3) and received within the next seven calendar days (by Tuesday, Nov. 10). Absentee ballots may not be returned to the polling place.
Options for returning a completed ballot include sending it through the U.S. Postal Service or a package delivery service. USPS is recommending that people allow for six business days for mail delivery within the United States. Ballots can be hand-delivered prior to Election Day or before 3 on Election Day. There is also a ballot drop box outside the main entrance on the north side of the Wright County Government Center.
Once a ballot has been submitted, a ballot can be tracked to determine its status at the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website and it can be found here: https://mnvotes.sos.state.mn.us/AbsenteeBallotStatus.aspx.
Processing of accepted absentee ballots will begin Tuesday, Oct. 27 and will conclude Tuesday, Nov. 10.
Eight cities in Wright County administer absentee balloting for residents of their communities – Albertville, Buffalo, Delano, Hanover, Howard Lake, Monticello, Otsego and St. Michael. The addresses, business hours and phone numbers of the city halls that accept absentee ballots can be found here: http://www.co.wright.mn.us/974/Absentee-Voting-In-Person.
With the absentee voting period now open, the Wright County Auditor/Treasurer’s office is recommending voters use the mail-in option, but the office is open to accept votes from anyone who feels more secure in voting in-person without dealing with potential crowds and lines on Election Day.