Updated: September 18, 2020 08:18 AM
Created: September 17, 2020 04:38 PM
Election officials in Minnesota are preparing for high demand in early voting and mail-in ballots as polls open statewide on Friday.
They say a record number of voters have already requested to vote early by mail.
Voting centers will also be open for 46 days starting Friday as officials are encouraging people to vote early. Thursday, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon also announced that every registered voter in the state will soon receive a letter that will include an absentee ballot application to encourage them to vote from home.
"Many individuals still choose to vote in-person," said Grace Wachlarowicz, the Minneapolis elections and voter services director.
But a record number of people may want to skip the lines entirely and vote by mail.
"The name of the game this time around is voting through the mail, which we expected and which we wanted," said Hennepin County Elections Manager Ginny Gelms.
The Minneapolis Convention Center is where workers are setting up their operation and sorting through 114,000 ballots, which they're preparing to send out on Friday.
"It will be done safely, securely and accurately," Wachlarowicz said.
Hennepin County officials told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they have nearly 328,000 requests for absentee ballots. For comparison, in 2016, that number was only 26,000.
"We've already seen a 12-fold increase in the number of people who have requested their ballots," Gelms said.
With an increase in absentee ballots, officials stressed that they will take longer to count.
"We know those results that we report on election night aren't going to be the final results because we're still receiving absentee ballots for a week after the election," Gelms said.
Mail-in ballots can be dropped off at certain locations, and for those worried about their vote being counted, Wachlarowicz tried to ease concerns.
"It is secure, that is a priority of mine and that was discussed extensively to make sure that all our voters have that confidence that there is no chance of funny business," Wachlarowicz said.
If you want to track the status of your absentee ballot or find an early voting location near you, click here.
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