More than 1 million Minnesotans have voted by mail with 10 days to go before Election Day and more than a half-million others have requested absentee ballots, shattering previous records.
In 2016, when President Trump narrowly lost the battleground state, nearly 3 million Minnesotans cast ballots — representing about 75% of total registered voters at the time, according to the state’s website.
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said during a Thursday press call that the turnout so far “shatters all records by multiples,” according to the Isanti-Chicago County Star.
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“We have been suggesting to Minnesotans that they take a good, hard look at voting from home, by mail (in order to decrease the chances of spreading COVID-19),” he said, adding that the Minnesota legislature authorized the state “to use funds for that purpose … predicting, as it turns out, that people would flock to this particular option of voting.”
Voters line up outside of the Minneapolis early voting center as Minnesota opened early voting for the general election. (AP Photo/Steve Karnowski, File)
A federal judge on Oct. 12 ruled that Minnesota could extend its deadline to count ballots until seven days after Nov. 3, citing potential ballot delivery delays and concerns related to COVID-19.
“Election night is going to look and feel different from what Minnesotans and the rest of the country are used to,” Simon said, according to the outlet. “There will be, in a sense, no instant gratification — or less instant gratification on election night than we’re used to.”
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As Election Day approaches, Minnesota has also seen a rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, reaching a state daily high of 2,290 new infections on Oct. 16.
“Minnesota’s acceleration in cases and community spread is alarming,” Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said in a Thursday statement. “Now more than ever we need every Minnesotan to make the effort to keep every other Minnesotan safe. The solutions are low cost, low tech, and require no special skills. Keep six feet apart, wear a mask, wash your hands, stay home if you’re sick – and get a test if you need it.”
The Department of Health recommends people reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 while voting in person by wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing, trying to avoid voting at peak times, avoiding large crowds and washing hands before and after entering a polling place.
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