MOORHEAD — More than a half-million Minnesotans have applied for absentee ballots for the 2020 elections, a ten-fold increase over applications at the same point in time two years ago.

The Minnesota Secretary of State's office released the latest numbers Friday, July 31. It said 545,829 people have applied for absentee ballots so far. Of those, 245,371 have been returned and accepted.

Minnesota's primary election is Aug. 11. The general election is Nov. 3.

Historically, these are stunning figures.

At the same time in 2018, 54,264 had applied for absentee ballots. In 2016, the most recent presidential election year, 25,930 had applied.

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Secretary of State Steve Simon and his office have been pushing for voters to use absentee ballots because of concerns over the coronavirus. In-person voting will still be available on the primary and general election days. Early in-person voting is also available at county courthouses.

In Clay County, where Moorhead is located, the auditor's office said the county has mailed out 6,628 absentee ballots and accepted 1,817. No figures were available how this compared to recent elections.

The latest number represents a sharp increase in the number of statewide absentee ballots in the last month. As of June 26, almost 208,000 people had requested absentee ballots.

Time is running short for those who want to vote via absentee for the primary. Absentee ballots for the primary must be postmarked by election day (Aug. 11) and received by the auditor's office by Aug. 13. Or voters can drop off their ballots at the Clay County Courthouse at 807 11th Street North in Moorhead.

Minnesotans can request absentee ballots by going to the Secretary of State's website or by calling their county auditor's office.

In-person early voting began June 26. Because of the pandemic, the Clay County auditor's office is accepting in-person early votes by appointment only. Residents can schedule an appointment by calling the Clay County auditor's office at (218) 299-5006.

Voters should check with their local county auditor's office, or check the Secretary of State's website, if they have questions about voting.

Other local counties and their number of primary absentee ballots that have been accepted as of Friday:

  • Becker: 919.
  • Otter Tail: 1,092.
  • Norman: 498.
  • Wilkin: 216.