Long lines form for early voting

Absentee voters wait in line in Ramsey County
Early voters wait in line in the Ramsey County Elections Office to cast their absentee ballots the day before Election Day.
MPR Photo/Tim Nelson

People were lined up out to the sidewalk for the last chance to cast an absentee ballot in St. Paul today.

State law allows them to vote in person until the end of business today, and hundreds took the opportunity to cast a ballot at the county election offices, rather than their usual polling place.

Early voters wait in line in Ramsey County
Early voters wait in line in the Ramsey County Elections Office to cast their absentee ballots the day before Election Day.
MPR Photo/Tim Nelson

Ramsey County elections manager Joe Mansky estimated more than 1,000 people voted today, although they were still counting up the ballots at the end of the day. In addition, nearly 700 people casted their vote on Saturday. That was the story at election offices scattered all over Minnesota today. In Rochester there was an hour wait to vote at the Olmstead County election office, and in Olivia Renville County Auditor Larry Jacobs said his staff had mailed out three times as many absentee ballots as they have before.

Some places, though, were quiet. In Dakota County, where absenteee balloting was up about 25 percent from usual this year, you could step right up and vote without a wait. Technically, those voting early have to be sick or attending someone who is ill, out of town, observing a religious holiday, working as an election judge or under government orders to stay home to vote absentee.

Boxes of absentee ballots
Boxes of absentee ballots are stacked at the Ramsey County Elections Office.
MPR Photo/Tim Nelson

Minnesota doesn't allow early voting. But the demand for voting already this year had elections officials and at least one legislator saying it was time the state did away with the pretense and simply started allowing early voting.

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