Minnesota voting issues

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Election and registration information

MN Secretary of State website

Polls are open 7am - 8pm.

Eligibility to Vote

To register and vote in Minnesota on the next Election Day, an individual must:
(a) be at least 18 years old on Election Day;
(b) be a citizen of the United States;
(c) have resided in Minnesota for 20 days immediately preceding Election Day;
(d) have any felony conviction record discharged, expired, or completed;
(e) not be under court-ordered guardianship where a court has revoked voting rights; and
(f) not have been ruled legally incompetent by a court of law

Voter identification requirements

Preregistration ended on October 14. Minnesota State law allows same-day voter registration. You must bring proof of who you are and where you live to your polling place:
Option #1: MN driver’s license, MN State ID card, or photo tribal ID with your current address
Option #2: A photo ID + a current utility bill in your name (See below for examples)
Option #3: A voucher—someone registered to vote in your precinct who can swear that you live there.

Option #2—bring proof of who you and where you live to your polling place: One of these:
Photo IDs:

  • MN driver’s license or ID card (with old address)
  • Tribal ID without an address
  • US passport
  • US military ID
  • MN student ID

AND One of these: Only Acceptable Utility Bills:

  • Gas, Electric, Solid Waste, Water, or Sewer
  • Phone (any kind: land line, cell, VOIP)
  • TV (cable, satellite)
  • Internet
  • Rent statement with itemized utilities
  • Current student fee statement

Identification Required for Pre-Registered Voters

Generally, if an individual is pre-registered, he or she is only required to confirm his or her name, address, and/or birth date for an election judge and sign the polling place register. However, some voters who pre-registered by mail may be required to show identification by providing any of the forms of ID acceptable for same-day registration.

Absentee and early voting

You can vote early if you are going to be away on Election Day.
Voting by absentee ballot:
Vote in person at your county auditor’s office from Oct. 4th thru Nov. 3rd.
Vote by mail—contact your county auditor’s office, fill out an application, and mail back the ballot that is sent to you.

Voter's Bill of Rights

Minnesota Statutes, section 204C.08, subd. 1a requires that Election judges post the following "Voter's Bill of Rights" in a conspicuous location or locations in all polling places:


For all persons residing in this state who meet federal voting eligibility requirements:
(1) You have the right to be absent from work for the purpose of voting during the morning of election day.
(2) If you are in line at your polling place any time between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., you have the right to vote.
(3) If you can provide the required proof of residence, you have the right to register to vote and to vote on election day.
(4) If you are unable to sign your name, you have the right to orally confirm your identity with an election judge and to direct another person to sign your name for you.
(5) You have the right to request special assistance when voting.
(6) If you need assistance, you may be accompanied into the voting booth by a person of your choice, except by an agent of your employer or union or a candidate.
(7) You have the right to bring your minor children into the polling place and into the voting booth with you.
(8) If you have been convicted of a felony but your felony sentence has expired (been completed) or you have been discharged from your sentence, you have the right to vote.
(9) If you are under a guardianship, you have the right to vote, unless the court order revokes your right to vote.
(10) You have the right to vote without anyone in the polling place trying to influence your vote.
(11) If you make a mistake or spoil your ballot before it is submitted, you have the right to receive a replacement ballot and vote.
(12) You have the right to file a written complaint at your polling place if you are dissatisfied with the way an election is being run.
(13) You have the right to take a sample ballot into the voting booth with you.
(14) You have the right to take a copy of this Voter's Bill of Rights into the voting booth with you.

Recount Requirements and Information

Recount Updates

  • Jan. 7, 2009. After an extensive recount, the Minnesota State Canvassing Board has certified the results of the 2008 Senate election, with Al Franken the winner by 225 votes. Republican incumbent Norm Coleman immediately filed a lawsuit challenging the results.[1] A court hearing is expected to begin within a month.
  • Dec. 12, 2008. The Minnesota State Canvassing Board meets today to determine the fate of the so-called "fifth pile" of ballots, absentee ballots that were found to be improperly rejected and therefore possibly eligible for inclusion in the Senate recount vote totals.[2] These ballots, which may number over 2000 state-wide, could make the difference in the extremely close race. The board will also decide what to do about 133 ballots from a Minneapolis precinct that have been declared lost by local officials.[3] Their next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, December 16, where they will begin examining the thousands of ballots challenged by each campaign in an attempt to determine voter intent.[4]
  • Dec. 11, 2008. The Franken campaign has presented affadavits from 62 Minnesota voters who say that their absentee ballots were rejected without cause. The State Canvassing Board is scheduled to meet tomorrow to decide whether improperly-rejected absentee ballots can be added to the recount total, among other issues.[5]
  • Dec. 11, 2008. A re-examination of the state's rejected absentee ballots is currently underway.[2] Rejected ballots are being placed into one of five "groupings", based on the reason for rejection. The possible reasons for rejection are:

1. Voter name/address on return envelope different than on absentee application.

2. Voter signature on return envelope and application do not match/or certificate not completed.
3. Voter not registered and no application card included in return application.
3e. Voter not registered; however, it appears there may be a voter registration card in secrecy envelope.
4. Voter already voted either in person or by absentee ballot.

5. Mistakenly rejected.

Some counties are choosing not to participate in the absentee ballot classification on advice of legal counsel.[2] Detailed, county-by-county totals can be seen at 2008 rejected Minnesota absentee ballots.
  • Dec. 8, 2008. Officials in Minneapolis have announced that they are giving up the search for 133 missing ballots in the Senate recount. The ballots, which were contained in an envelope marked "#1 of 5", come from a heavily-Democratic area of the city. It is undecided whether the district's original vote count from election day will be used instead if the ballots cannot be found. [6]
  • Dec. 2, 2008. Both campaigns in the closely-watched Senate recount have announced their willingness withdraw some challenges to disputed ballots. Nearly 6,000 ballots have been challenged on the grounds of unclear voter intent, and must be examined by the state Canvassing Board to determine whether a clear vote was marked. The Board is scheduled to begin their deliberations in less than two weeks. [7]
  • Nov. 23, 2008. The Minnesota state Canvassing Board will meet on November 26, 2008 to discuss, and perhaps rule, on whether thousands of rejected absentee ballots will be counted. If the rejected absentees are re-examined, a further note of uncertainty will be injected into the state's ongoing recount.[8]
  • The Minnesota Secretary of State website is posting US Senate Recount Data each day the recount continues. Figures include ballots counted for each candidate and ballots challenged by each candidate. You can find the most recent tallies at http://electionresults.sos.state.mn.us/20081104/SenateRecount.asp
  • Nov. 13, 2008. The Franken campaign has filed suit against Ramsey County to force release of the names of all voters whose absentee ballots were rejected by the County Board of Elections.[9] Mark Elias, attorney for the Franken campaign, says "We are not suing to have these in the count. We are simply looking for the data so that we can identify people who were legal and lawful voters, to ensure their ballots are counted."[10] It's unclear whether there is any legal path that would allow a rejected voter's ballots to be included in the recount, scheduled to begin next week, even if the voter was found to be eligible.[10] According to Minn. Sec. of State Mark Ritchie, in order for a voter to be reinstated once their ballot has been rejected, they must seek a judicial remedy, not an administrative one, and that it would fall outside the recount process."[10]
  • Nov. 11, 2008. Ballot Security has become a pressing issue in the 2008 Minnesota Senatorial race.[11] As Minnesota prepares to begin a manual recount as required by law, the campaigns are working to ensure that all ballots are kept in a secure environment. (Minnesota state law does not mandate conditions for ballot storage [11].) The Coleman campaign has proposed that guidelines issued by a Stearns County District Court Judge on Nov. 7, 2008, which dictate ballot handling procedures and place limits on ballot monitors sent by each campaign to sit watch over the ballots, be applied state-wide. [12] The Franken campaign has submitted a counterproposal that takes into account each county's security procedures, and includes additional election-related items that they seek to have preserved. [13] No hearing has been announced to address the issue.
  • Read the Franken campaign's proposal:
Letter from David L. Lillehaug, attorney for Franken campaign, to Frederic Knaak, attorney for Coleman campaign, dated Nov. 10, 2008
Stipulation Between the Campaigns For United States Senate For the Protection, Preservation, and Security of Ballots and Other Election Documents and Information
  • Read the Coleman campaign's proposal:
Letter from Frederic Knaak, attorney for Coleman campaign, to David L. Lillehaug, attorney for Coleman campaign, dated Nov. 8, 2008
Stearns County District Court ruling, In the Matter of the Stearns County Auditor's Petition for Ex Parte Order Securing Ballots Page 1 Page 2

Recount FAQs

Minnesota state law has specific requirements before an election can be certified. According to the Minnesota 2008 Recount Guide::

  • There is an automatic manual recount of votes cast for federal and state contests in a general election when:
  • The difference between the votes of the winning candidate and any other candidate is less than one-half of one percent of the total number of votes counted for that office.
  • Or, if the difference in vote count is ten votes or less for an office in which 400 votes or less votes were cast.
  • In the event of an automatic manual recount, "the governing body assumes the responsibility for the expenses of the recount; however, the losing candidate may waive the recount by filing a written notice of waiver with the canvassing board." [14]
  • 2008 recount FAQs, from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
  • When will the recounting occur? How long will it take?
The recount will begin on Nov. 19, 2008 after the unofficial general election results are certified on Nov. 18. According to Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, the count must be completed by Dec. 5, and the Canvassing Board will meet Dec. 16., with a completion goal of Dec. 19.
  • Who will conduct the recount?
Each vote will be hand-examined by election officials in nearly 100 city and county election offices, with representatives from each campaign on-hand to monitor the process. The recount will be overseen by the State Canvassing Board, which will be comprised of Secretary of State Ritchie, two State Supreme Court judges, and two Ramsay County District Court judges.
  • What will the examiners be looking for?
"The voter's intent."[15] Incorrectly-completed ballots where the voter's intent is clear -- for example, ballots which have the candidate's name circled or checked -- will be added to that candidate's total. In the event of a ballot where the voters' intent can't be determined, that vote will be sent to the State Canvassing Board for further examination.
  • Will the votes be counted by machine again as well?
No. The recount is conducted entirely by hand. For information on Minnesota's voting machines, see Minnesota voting issues # Voting machine verification and security
  • Will the public be able to view to recount?
Yes. A recount viewing schedule will be announced.

Voting machines

2008 election

For the 2008 election Minnesota used the following voting machines. For a county-by-county list of the specific machines (and the source for this section) see Verified Voting's Verifier tool.

Main article: Voting machines

Optical scan machines:

Assistive Devices for Marking Paper Ballots

Governmental election authorities

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie

Contact information:

  • For Election and Administration:
  • 180 State Office Building
  • 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
  • Saint Paul, MN 55155
  • Metro Area 651-215-1440
  • Greater MN 1-877-600-VOTE(8683)
  • Fax: 651-296-9073

Use the tool found on the Secretary of State’s website to determine the contact information for a local election official: https://minnesota.overseasvotefoundation.org/overseas/eod.htm?stateId=26&x=49&y=10

Election threats

Deceptive practices

  • Oct. 29, 2008. Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie warned voters to be aware of intimidating calls regarding their voter registration status from callers claiming to be from his office. [16] The group responsible for the calls [17] , Minnesota Majority, says that there is no intimidation involved, that they are providing a service by checking the voter registration records, and that they never claimed to be representing the Secretary of State. The calls have been referred to the County attorney's office and the U.S. Attorney. [18]
  • Nov. 4, 2008. Obama voters reported receiving hoax text messages advising them to vote the following day to avoid lines[19]. Similar deceptive text messages were reported reported in several states.

Voting machine verification and security

Minnesota uses the following voting machines. For a county-by-county list of the specific machines (and the source for this section) see Verified Votings' Verifier tool.

Main article: Voting machines

Optical scan machines:

Assistive Devices for Marking Paper Ballots:

  • For an extensive log of voting machine problems, see the VotersUnite! report on election incidents.[20]

State and local non-governmental election organizations

League of Women Voters

LWV of Minnesota, Judith A. Stuthman & Vivian Jenkins Nelsen, Co-Presidents

  • 550 Rice Street, Suite 201
  • Saint Paul, MN 55103-2144
  • Phone: 651-224-5445
  • Fax: 651-290-2145
  • http://www.lwvmn.org

Local Leagues:

Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota

Description: "Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota (CEIMN) was formed shortly after the 2004 election. The initial focus was supporting the Ohio recount to which CEIMN sent nine volunteer observers from Minnesota. CEIMN advocates for accurate and transparent elections and specifically to promote robust post-election audits across the country. In 2006 CEIMN played a role in amending Minnesota's audit law. In 2006, CEIMN, along with the League of Women Voters Minnesota, coordinated the first statewide citizen led observation of a post-election audit, recruiting and training 208 citizens who observed in 70 counties." [21]

Contact information:

  • Citizens for Election Integrity - MN
  • 2323 E. Franklin Ave.
  • Minneapolis, MN 55406
  • 612-724-1736
  • Email: Use the email contact form on the website.

FairVote Minnesota

Description: FairVote Minnesota works for better democracy through a unique focus on the voting system. We educate the public about the effect our voting system has on the quality of our democracy and about alternative voting systems that may improve public life. [22]

  • FairVote Minnesota
  • PO Box 19440
  • Minneapolis, MN 55419-0440
  • email: info@FairVoteMN.org
  • (763) 807-2550

Take Action Minnesota

Did you know... If you need assistance with a disability or a language other than English, you can bring someone with you to the polls. You have the right to be excused from work to vote for up to two hours in the morning. If you have been convicted of a felony, your right to vote is automatically restored when you finish your sentence; if you are off paper, you can register and vote. You can take a sample ballot into the voting booth with you.

Questions? Problems? Call the VOTER HOTLINE: 1-866-OUR-VOTE For information on how to register, where to vote, and what your rights are. 1-866-687-8683.

Articles and resources

See also


  1. Pat Doyle and Kevin Duchschere,Coleman goes to court over Senate recount,Minneapolis Star-Tribune, January 7, 2009.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2008 rejected Minnesota absentee ballots, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, December 11, 2008.
  3. Mark Brunswick and Bob Von Sternberg, Senate recount: Minneapolis gives up on 133 ballots, but they still have pull, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, December 8, 2008.
  4. Pat Doyle, Senate recount: State law is clear on challenged ballots, except in the details, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, December 10, 2008.
  5. Mike Kaszuba, Franken presents affidavits from 62 with rejected ballots, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, December 11, 2008.
  6. Mark Brunswick and Bob Von Sternberg, Senate recount: Minneapolis gives up on 133 ballots, but they still have pull, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, December 8, 2008.
  7. Mike Kaszuba and Curt Brown,Senate recount: Some progress on all those challenges,Minneapolis Star-Tribune, December 2, 2008.
  8. Patricia Lopez and Bob von Sternberg,"Rejected absentees votes may decide it", Star Tribune, November 23, 2008
  9. Patricia Gomez,Franken campaign sues for voter lists,Minneapolis Star-Tribune, November 13, 2008.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Brian Bakst,Franken seeks access to rejected absentee data, The Associated Press, November 13, 2008
  11. 11.0 11.1 Patrick Condon,Ballot security could be issue in Minn. recount, Associated Press, November 11, 2008
  12. Rachel E. Stassen-Berger,Expecting a break, voters got a recount,Pioneer Press,November 10, 2008
  13. Posted by Rachel E. Stassen-Berger ,Franken counterproposes: "ballots shall ... remain under lock and key.", The Political Animal blog, gathered November 11, 2008
  14. Minnesota 2008 Recount Guide
  15. Curt Brown, Ballot by ballot, victor to emerge, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, November 9, 2008
  16. Kevin Duchschere, Callers question registered Minnesota voters' eligibility Star Tribune, October 29, 2008
  17. Kevin Duchschere, Watchdog group denies trying to intimidate voters Star Tribune, October 30, 2008
  18. Kevin Duchschere, Callers question registered Minnesota voters' eligibility Star Tribune, October 29, 2008
  19. MyFox Twin Cities 20081104 "Minnesota Voters Get 'Vote Wednesday' Hoax Text Messages," MyFox Twin Cities, November 4, 2008.
  20. This past problem and description are from the VotersUnite! Election Problem Log. Click through for included links to origin of report.
  21. From the CEIMN About Us page. Retrieved September 16, 2008.
  22. From the About Us page on the FairVote MN website. Retrieved September 16, 2008.

External resources

Poll location

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Voting information

Voting rights

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Election officials, election reform groups, and elected officials

Absentee voting

Disabled voters

Student voting rights

State ballot

  • See how organizations you trust recommend you vote on ballot measures and other statewide contests at TransparentDemocracy.


  • Help in other languages from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. 中文, 日本語, 한국어, Tagalog, Tiếng Việt, Español

Voting machines

Election law

External articles