Election Day is almost upon us, take a few minutes to learn what your rights are while voting in Minnesota in case you encounter any problems.
IMPORTANT ELECTION DAY GUIDELINES TO REMEMBER
- Registration to vote can be done in person, by mail, online, while applying for a driver's license or another identification card, on Election Day, or when casting an absentee ballot.
- Students can register to vote at whatever address they regard as their primary legal residence. This can be a school address or home address.
- People convicted of a misdemeanor are eligible to vote. They can vote by absentee ballot if still in jail. People convicted of a felony can also vote if they have finished all the terms of their sentence including, probation, parole, and supervised release.
- Homeless people can register and vote in the precinct in which they live and usually sleep (which can be a street corner, a park, a shelter, or any other location).
- You will be required to re-register every time you move or change your name.
- You have the right to be absent from work for the purpose of voting during the morning of Election Day. You cannot be penalized for being absent from work for the purpose of voting.
- Polling locations will be open from 7 am to 8 pm. You have the right to vote if you are in line or are inside your polling place when the polling location closes.
- You may take written or printed election materials with you into the polling location as long as they are for your own use in casting your ballot. However, you cannot wear partisan t-shirts or buttons at polling locations.
- Most voters will not need to show identification at all. However, you will need a form of identification if you are registering to vote at a polling location on Election Day. Also, you may be asked to show identification if you registered to vote by mail and have not previously voted in a federal election in Minnesota. You can find a complete list of eligible IDs at www.mnvotes.org
- If you did not bring identification to your polling location to register to vote, you may satisfy the identification requirement by having someone who is registered to vote in your precinct vouch for your identity.
- If you make a mistake and spoil a ballot, tell an election judge. You can return the spoiled ballot to an election judge at your polling location and receive a new ballot.
No excuse absentee voting
As of 2013, Minnesota has no-excuse absentee voting. This means that voters can vote before the election without providing a reason why. Previously you had to legally state that you would not be in your district on election day. Counties across Minnesota are open business days, during typical business hours to accommodate in-person absentee voting. Most counties offer some in-person early voting locations, find out where you can vote early here.
Problems you may encounter at the polls:
- If you are not on the voter list, you may ask an election judge to check the list again and confirm that you are at the right polling place for your address. If you are not registered at the right polling location, you may ask for a voter registration application to register to vote at the right polling location.
- If someone challenges your right to vote, an election judge will ask you to give an oath and will also ask you questions to test your residency and your right to vote. If you refuse, you will not be allowed to vote, even if you leave and return later willing to do so.
- If someone tries to intimidate or harass you, tell an election judge right away. If the election judge is the problem, call your county auditor or one of the election hotline numbers.
Avoid problems at you polling location by:
- Checking your voter registration status beforehand;
- locating the correct polling place;
- voting early in the day;
- bringing some form of identification, even if it is not required;
- reading instructions carefully, and asking for help.