Secretary of State considering election changes amid COVID-19 pandemic

Minnesota could consider an all-mail balloting system.
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Minnesota's Secretary of State says he is exploring options for how this year's elections will go ahead despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Minnesota is due to hold its state primaries in August – around when Gov. Tim Walz says he expects the epidemic to peak in the state – while the presidential election will follow in November.

With Minnesotans being advised to follow social distancing requirements, the prospect of busy polling places present a particular challenge come election time.

On Thursday, Secretary of State Steve Simon says he's in talks with partners at the local, county and federal level to discuss alternatives to a traditional voting day.

In any case, there will be a "strong push" towards postal votes, with one of the options being considered by Simon being that the elections are conducted entirely by mail, with every registered voter in the state receiving a ballot.

But another option he'll also be looking at is a mixture of mail-in ballots and physical voting locations.

Under this system, people would be heavily encouraged to mail their vote in, while physical polling places would be placed in centralized locations, or moved out of locations where there are high-risk populations, such as senior care centers.

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In any case, he's adamant that Minnesotans will get to vote this year.

"The current public health crisis has been a serious test for all Minnesotans. It has also been a test for our democracy," he said. "I've heard from many Minnesotans who wonder how, or even if, we will vote in this high-stakes election year. My answer is clear: The 2020 statewide elections should go on as scheduled."

"Whatever option we use, we'll do this thoughtfully and carefully," he added "No one should have to choose between their health and their right to vote."

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