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Freeborn County absentee voting requests almost double 2016

Absentee ballot requests in Freeborn County are up 95% so far compared to 2016, the Freeborn County auditor-treasurer said Monday. 

The county has received about 4,500 absentee ballot requests, compared to about 2,300 in the last presidential election in 2016. 

Auditor-treasurer Pat Martinson said 40% of Albert Lea voters have already voted via absentee so far, with about a week to go until the general election. 

Martinson said absentee ballots are counted separately from the mail ballots sent to registered voters in cities and townships that opted for this voting process. 

She said because of the pandemic, the law required her office to start processing the county’s received ballots Oct. 20, and over the weekend she had a team of about 18 people, including staff and election judges from the various political parties, begin the process. They processed over 7,000 ballots — including absentee ballots and mail ballots. Processing the ballots includes opening the ballots from their envelopes, initialing them and running them through a tabulator machine. Results of the ballots are not totaled or released until Election Day. 

Starting Tuesday and continuing through Monday, absentee voters are able to utilize direct absentee balloting and vote and then cast their ballot directly into a vote tabulator in the Auditor-Treasurer’s Office at the Freeborn County courthouse. Martinson said people can call ahead or go online to make an appointment to do so, but an appointment is not required.   

Registered voters should have received mail ballots on or shortly after Oct. 5 in Albert Lea Township, Alden Township, Bancroft Township, Bath Township, Carlston Township, Freeborn Township, Geneva Township, Hartland Township, London Township, Manchester Township, Mansfield Township, Moscow Township, Nunda Township, Oakland Township, Pickerel Lake Township and Shell Rock Township, along with the cities of Alden, Clarks Grove, Conger, Emmons, Freeborn, Geneva, Glenville, Hartland, Hayward, Hollandale, Manchester, Myrtle and Twin Lakes. 

Martinson said voters who received mail ballots should vote their ballot, enclose it in the tan ballot envelope provided and then enclose the tan ballot envelope in the white signature envelope and sign the signature envelope. The ballot will not be accepted without a signature. 

It can be mailed back to the Auditor-Treasurer’s Office in the postage paid envelope provided, dropped off in the drop box in the law enforcement entrance of the courthouse or dropped off in the Auditor-Treasurer’s Office by 8 p.m. Election Day. 

If a person did not receive his or her original mail ballot, he or she should call the Auditor-Treasurer’s Office and request a new one. The original ballot is marked as spoiled and a replacement will be issued. 

People in mail ballot jurisdictions who are not registered to vote may apply for an absentee ballot but will need to provide proof of residence and complete an Election Day voter registration application as required by law. 

On Election Day, in-person voting will be open for voters in all of Albert Lea’s wards, along with Freeman, Hayward, Newry and Riceland townships. 

Martinson said Minnesotans typically lead the nation in voter turnout, and she’s expecting this year to be no different. 

“I think Minnesota has a good system,” she said. “It encourages voting.”

The Auditor-Treasurer’s Office is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. daily through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day.

If people have questions, they can call the Freeborn County Auditor-Treasurer’s Office at 507-377-5121 or 507-377-5117.

 

Mail ballot FAQs

How do I vote if I am in a mail ballot precinct?

Registered voters should have received their ballots in the mail on or shortly after Oct. 5. The ballots were noted as official election mailing and were non-forwardable from the United States Postal Service. Voters should:

  • Vote their ballot
  • Enclose it in the tan ballot envelope
  • Enclose the tan ballot envelope in the white signature envelope
  • Sign the signature envelope or the ballot will not be accepted
  • Mail the ballot back to the Auditor-Treasurer’s Office in the return, postage paid white envelope provided, drop it off in a drop off box in the law enforcement entrance of the Government Center or drop it off in the Auditor-Treasurer’s Office by 8 p.m. Nov. 3. 

 

What if I don’t receive my ballot?

Call the Freeborn County Auditor-Treasurer’s Office and request a new one. The original ballot is marked as spoiled in the system and a replacement ballot is issued. Mail ballot voters may also vote in the Auditor-Treasurer’s Office. The original ballot will be spoiled and a replacement will be issued in that case as well.

 

Will any polling places be open on Election Day?

The Auditor-Treasurer’s Office will be open as a polling place on Election Day. You can drop off your ballot there, or register and vote in person.

 

What if I move to a mail ballot precinct close to the election date?

If you update your voter registration to your new address at least 21 days before the election, election officials will automatically send you a ballot by mail. Otherwise, you will need to apply to have a ballot mailed to your new address. Election officials will send you a registration application with your ballot materials or you may come to the Auditor-Treasurer’s Office to resolve.

 

What if I’m not currently registered to vote?

Eligible voters who do not receive a ballot mailed to them due to not being registered in the precinct may apply for an absentee ballot, but will need to provide proof of residence and complete an election day voter registration application as required by law before their ballot will be accepted.

For more information or questions contact the Freeborn County Auditor-Treasurer’s Office at 507-377-5121 or 5117 or check www.co.freeborn.mn.us and look for Auditor-Treasurer under the Departments tab.

— Information from the Freeborn County Auditor-Treasurer’s Office