More than 1 million absentee ballots in Minnesota already have been accepted by the state ahead of next week’s election. Officials say having those up-to-date results might mean there won’t be as much confusion that night as some have feared.
The surge in absentee voting because of the pandemic has led to discussion about the public not knowing results for various contests until well after Election Day. And in Minnesota, the Legislature has temporarily allowed for ballots to arrive by November 10, as long as they’re postmarked by November 3.
Secretary of State Steve Simon said that means totals won’t be 100% in that night. But he said that’s no reason to panic.
“Just because we may not have 100% of the votes in for a week does not mean that people will be standing around wondering who won every office,” Simon said. “That’s not the case. In fact, it’s far more likely that we’ll have winners, outcomes either on Election Night or shortly thereafter.”
With the large amount of ballots already in, coupled with a fresh update on how many outstanding ballots there will be on Election Day, Simon said they’ll consistently provide the media and public with the information to give them a clearer picture.
But he warned there might be some tight races that could still take several days to be called.
Simon stressed all of the extra policies and procedures going into this year’s Election Day and conveying the results are done by design and people should have faith in the system, even if they don’t see all precincts reporting on Election Night.
“It’s not the product of someone’s laziness, or someone’s screw-up, or someone failing to plan,” he said.
In addition to having an extra week for absentee ballots to be returned, Minnesota also temporarily removed the witness signature requirement for voting by mail. Both of those procedural changes have survived court challenges.
As of last week, the Secretary of State’s office reported more than 1.7 million absentee ballots had been requested, with nearly 1.2 million already accepted.