ACLU-MN Voting 101

Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy and the fundamental right upon which all our civil liberties rest. The ACLU of Minnesota is working to protect and expand Minnesotansʼ freedom to vote.

Browse the topics below to learn about how you can exercise your power this election season. 

Voter Registration

You must be registered to vote in order to cast your ballot in Minnesota. We urge all voters to register to vote early, but voters may also register in person on Election Day.

Register to Vote Before Election Day

Those wishing to register to vote before Election Day must register by Tuesday, Oct. 13. In order to make Election Day run as smoothly as possible for all Minnesota voters, we urge everyone planning to be a voter to register before this deadline.

To register to vote, you must be:

  • A U.S. citizen
  • At least 18 years old on Election Day
  • A resident of Minnesota for 20 days
  • Finished with all parts of any felony sentence


Register to Vote in Person

Those who do not register online or on paper by Tuesday, Oct. 13 can still vote by registering in person at their polling place on Election Day. If you register in person, you must provide ID and proof of Minnesota residence. Check the list of accepted forms of ID and proof of residence to make sure you're prepared before you go.

Minnesota voters wishing to vote early in person can also register at their early voting location with an accepted form of ID and proof of residence.

Register to Vote in Person


Check Your Registration Status

Not sure if you're registered to vote? Check your registration status to make sure you're prepared to be a voter.

The deadline to register in advance is Tuesday, Oct. 13. Before the deadline arrives, make sure you check to confirm that you are registered. That way, whether you vote absentee by mail, vote early in person, or vote in person on Election Day, you'll be confident and prepared.

Check Your Registration Status

 

There Are Three Ways to Be A Voter This Election Season

Minnesota voters have multiple ways to exercise our power this election season, so there's no excuse not to be a voter. Learn how below.

1. Vote by Absentee Ballot

Voters can request an absentee ballot online or by submitting a completed form by mail, fax or email. 

Once your application is received and processed, your county elections office will mail you a ballot. When you receive your ballot, complete it as soon as possible and return it by mail or drop it off in person at your county elections office. Don't let anything stand in the way of your vote — send it back as early as possible.*

Absentee ballots returned via mail must be postmarked by Tuesday, Nov. 3 and received by Nov. 10. Absentee ballots returned in person must be dropped off at your county elections office by Tuesday, Nov. 3 at 3 p.m.** Please note that absentee ballots cannot be returned to your polling place; they must be returned to your county elections office or to another designated drop-off location.

Request An Absentee Ballot

*An ACLU-MN lawsuit eliminated the requirement for a witness signature on the absentee ballot envelope for registered voters during this election cycle. For registered voters, NO WITNESS SIGNATURE IS REQUIRED. Minnesotans who register to vote and complete an absentee ballot at the same time will still need a witness.

**Following warnings of mail delays, Minnesota voters are strongly encouraged to complete and return their ballots well in advance of Election Day. Voters who are concerned their ballots may not arrive in time to be counted should return their ballots in person to their county election office.


2. Vote Early in Person

Voters who choose to cast their ballot in person are urged to vote early at their local elections office beginning on Sept. 18, and through Monday, Nov. 2. Find your county elections office here.

Some voters living in more densely populated regions of the state may have access to other early voting locations. To see all the early voting locations in your area, click here.

Vote Early in Person


3. Vote in Person on Election Day

You can still vote in person on Election Day, on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Find your polling place

 

What You Need to Know to Vote In Person

While more Minnesota voters than ever will vote absentee by mail this election season, many are still planning to vote in person either early or on Election Day. If you're planning to vote in person, here's what you need to know before you go:

  • Check your voter registration status online before the deadline of Tuesday, Oct. 13. 
  • Find your polling place. 
  • Bring accepted ID and proof of resident IF you need to register in person on Election Day.
  • Remember to wear a mask and practice social distancing.
  • If the polls close while you're still in line, STAY IN LINE. You have the right to vote.
     

More Voting Tips

  • Remember to check your voter registration status before the early registration deadline of Tuesday, Oct. 13. Be confident that you're ready to be a voter when you head to the polls.

  • Public health officials recommend that you do not lick your ballot envelope to seal it, but instead use a wet sponge or cloth to dampen the adhesive.

  • If you make a mistake on your ballot, ask for a new one. 

  • If the machines are down at your polling place, ask for a paper ballot. 


More Voting Links and Resources

  • Find your county election office here. This is where you can vote early or drop off your absentee ballot.
     

  • If you have a felony conviction and have finished your probation or supervision, you are likely eligible to vote in this election season in Minnesota. Click this link to learn more about voting with a felony conviction.
     

  • To learn more about your voting rights, visit our Know Your Voting Rights page.
     

  • If you have problems voting or have additional questions, please call the national, non-partisan Election Protection hotline:

    • English: 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683)

    • Spanish: 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (1-888-839-8682)

    • Arabic: 1-844-YALLA-US (1-844-925-5287)

    • Bengali, Cantonese, Hindi, Urdu, Korean, Mandarin, Tagalog, or Vietnamese: 1-888-274-8683


Our Fight to Expand Voter Access 

We are fighting in the courtroom to increase voting access for every Minnesotan. 

We filed a lawsuit to ask the state of Minnesota to mail absentee ballot applications to every registered voter in the state. The Minnesota Secretary of State has agreed to our request. Getting a ballot application in the mail, versus having to go online, will help lots of people — including nearly a quarter of Minnesotans without internet access.

NAACP MINNESOTA-DAKOTAS AREA STATE CONFERENCE ET AL. V. MINNESOTA SECRETARY OF STATE


It was a crime to help more than three voters cast their ballots in Minnesota, which disproportionately affected immigrants and people with disabilities. Helping a voter who has difficulty seeing or reading a ballot should not be a crime. We sued and we won! 

Thao v. Minnesota Secretary of State


We listened to Minnesotans' concern about the in-person witness requirement due to COVID-19. We sued, and now the witness requirement is waived for the November 2020 General Election. 

NAACP MINNESOTA-DAKOTA AREA STATE CONFERENCE V. SIMON


We will keep fighting to expand voting rights to more than 53,000 Minnesotans who are living and working in their communities, raising families and paying taxes, yet aren’t allowed to decide who will represent them. Everybody deserves a second chance. 

SCHROEDER V. MINNESOTA SECRETARY OF STATE