The man in charge for overseeing the state's election process has warned not to expect results for several days for this week's primaries and November's general elections.
While election nights of the past have always been an intense race-to-the-finish for candidates, the realities presented by COVID-19 mean voters should prepare for huge changes in this week's primaries and in November's presidential and congressional elections.
The pandemic-sparked shift from in-person voting to voting absentee by mail will lead to potentially significant delays in the results, according to Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon.
Those mailing in their ballots for Tuesday's Minnesota Primaries can send their ballots as late as Tuesday, provided it arrives with vote counters by Thursday.
For November's presidential election, absentee ballots will be counted even if they arrive up to a WEEK after Election Day.
And it comes against a backdrop of crisis for the U.S. Postal Service, which could struggle to cope with the demand at a time when it's the subject of budget cuts by the Trump Administration, which has raised concern about the ability of the post service to handle mail-in votes for this November's general election.
"I’m asking for patience," Simon said in a note to members of the media Friday.
"We have all gotten used to knowing the results of the election at 10 p.m. on Election Night, sometimes the morning after. It’s going to be different this year. It might take a few days, or up to a week until ballots are all in and counted.
"This doesn’t mean that anything has gone wrong. For the primary, the Minnesota Legislature granted 48 hours of relief after Election Day to allow election officials sufficient time to count ballots. When you see the delay in reporting, know that it is by design, by law. Our commitment to accuracy and maintaining our longstanding system of safe, secure elections remains strong. This year, it’s just going to take more time."
To put it in perspective, as of 8 a.m. Monday Hennepin County said it has issued 261,600 absentee ballots and received 144,300 back for Tuesday's primaries. In the 2016 primaries, just 7,999 votes were submitted absentee.
Simon says that what will be known on Tuesday night will be the number of absentee ballots requested by voters for the primary, how many have been returned as of Tuesday evening, and how many people voted in-person at a polling place.
What won't be known is how many absentee ballots are outstanding, with counties having until midnight on Wednesday to do so.