MINNESOTA — Over 500,000 Minnesota voters used mail-in ballots for the state's primary election on Aug. 11.

That's more votes than every type of ballot in the state's 2016 primary.

For the county auditor in Mahnomen, mail-in voting has always been important.

"Two polling places in the entire county, and that's it," said James Lee, Mahnomen County auditor.

This year the number of people who wanted to vote by mail is on the rise.

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82 percent of the county's voters mailed in a ballot for the 2020 Minnesota primary.

Of the 19 voter precincts in the county, 11 were absentee ballot only in 2016. In 2020, the number of counties increased.

"I think the COVID-19 is really the reason behind most of the absentee ballots and 14 of 19 precincts. Between the two of them — that is what is driving it," said Lee.

Driving the trend in Mahnomen, and the rest of the state.

60 percent of voters in Minnesota used a mail-in absentee ballot for the primary.

He expects the percentage to be even higher for the general election on Nov. 3=. And he says the county has ordered plenty of absentee ballots and envelopes to be prepared.

"We feel like we are going to be very ready for it," said Lee.

Mail-in voting begins for our region on Sept. 18.

Clay County had 61% of voters use mail0in ballots. They begin in-person voting at the courthouse on Sept. 18.