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More than 600,000 Minnesotans have already voted in the 2020 elections

The number dwarfs absentee voting by the same time in 2016.
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More than 600,000 Minnesotans have already cast their vote in the 2020 elections, despite Election Day still being more than three weeks away.

The latest figures on the Minnesota Secretary of State's website show that 635,003 ballots have already been accepted for the Nov. 3 election, which SoS Steve Simon says represents 21% of the total number of people who voted in the 2016 elections.

Of those, 601,094 ballots were absentee ballots, with the rest cast in-person at Early Voting centers across the state.

The 601,094 absentee ballots already received are out of the 1,539,253 mail ballots requested. At the same time in 2016, just 281,532 people had applied to vote absentee in Minnesota.

The highest concentration of mail ballots on a per capita basis are being requested in the more isolated parts of Minnesota, where it's more difficult to access polling places.

Cook County in northeastern Minnesota and Marshall and Lake of the Woods counties in northwestern Minnesota have the highest rate of absentee ballot requests. (Note: We've since been informed that this is because absentee ballots are sent out automatically to registered voters in Lake of the Woods and Cook counties, due to their sparse population).

However, counties that traditionally lean Democrat have the highest rates of ballots that have been returned.

This correlates with recent polls in Minnesota that show more Democrats are likely to vote absentee in 2020 due to the ongoing concerns over COVID-19, while Republicans are more likely to vote in person.

Despite this, voting in-person isn't a huge health risk, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

"In general, we would compare the risk of voting in person comparable to going to the grocery store," said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said recently.

Registering to vote, and getting an absentee ballot

The deadline to register online to vote in Minnesota is Oct. 13, and you can do that here.

Alternatively, if you're unregistered to vote, you can still cast your ballot by mail, but you will be required to have a witness signature confirming your identity and address. More on that here.

And as ever, you can just register to vote at your polling place as you cast your vote. Here's what/who you need to bring to do this. 

Early voting centers will be open in Minnesota until Nov. 2. What's more, a new mail ballot drop-off site is opening at the Minneapolis Convention Center at 1301 Second Ave. S. on Tuesday, Oct. 13.

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