After a court reversed a rule on Thursday that means it's now possible that absentee ballots that arrive after Election Day will not be counted, election officials are reminding people they can still cast their vote in other ways.
Nearly 1.6 million Minnesotans have already voted in the General Election, but there are still about 312,000 absentee ballots that haven't been returned to elections officials, the Secretary of State's website shows.
For the absentee ballots that are still out there, elections officials are asking people not to mail them in as they likely won't arrive on time. But there are still options to make sure your vote is counted and your voice is heard.
If you haven't voted, you still have an absentee ballot at home, or if you've mailed your ballot but it still hasn't been received, here are your options:
If you've already mailed your ballot
Absentee ballots that are mailed have to arrive by 8 p.m. on Election Day to ensure they're counted.
So, if you've already mailed your ballot but it hasn't yet been received and accepted (you can check the status of your ballot online here), the Secretary of State's Office says you can still vote in-person early or at your polling place on Election Day even though you've mailed in a ballot.
Have a ballot at home?
If you still have an absentee ballot at home, don't mail it, the Secretary of State's website says.
Instead, you can fill it out and drop it off by hand to an election official or at an official ballot drop box. The deadline to do this is 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3 (Election Day). You can also have someone you trust to return your ballot for you.
For details on where to drop off your ballot, you can find a list of counties that offer in-person absentee voting here, otherwise you can take them to your local county election office, which you can find here.
You can also just head to your local election office to vote early in-person or vote on Election Day. Find out where to do that here.
Vote in-person now or on Election Day
If you have an absentee ballot at home, it hasn't been accepted yet, or if you haven't yet voted, you can still vote in-person.
Voters can cast their ballot in person with an absentee ballot at your local election office up until Monday, Nov. 2. Find out where you can do that here.
Another option is to head to the polls and vote in-person on Election Day. Here's the state's pollfinder tool, which tells you where you're supposed to vote.
(Note: you should not bring your absentee ballot to your polling place, they can only be returned to designated absentee drop-off locations, or to your county election office.)
The court ruling
A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled by a 2-1 vote Thursday that absentee ballots that arrive after Election Day (Nov. 3) should be separated from other ballots in case they are later invalidated due to arriving after Election Day.
This ruling comes after Minnesota's seven-day extension for absentee ballots was challenged in court. Secretary of State Steve Simon had approved this in order to ease mail-in voting requirements amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following the court's decision, Simon released a statement criticizing the decision:
“The court's decision is a tremendous and unnecessary disruption to Minnesota's election, just days before Election Day. This last-minute change could disenfranchise Minnesotans who were relying on settled rules for the 2020 election — rules that were in place before the August 11 primary and were accepted by all political parties. It is deeply troubling that the people who brought the lawsuit, a conservative legislator and presidential elector, would seek to sabotage the system for political gain.
"I won’t let any Minnesota voter be silenced. My mission is now to make sure all voters know that a federal court has suddenly changed the rules, and that their ballot needs to be received by Election Day.
"The right to vote is fundamental. The court’s decision is a step in the direction of restricting the exercise of that right, during a pandemic that has altered everything about our daily lives. But Minnesotans always find a way to vote, and they’ll do so again this year. The spirit that has fueled Minnesota's nation-leading voter turnout will continue.”