New law boosts early voting numbers to new record

Minnesota voters didn't need to reach for an excuse this year to get an absentee ballot and vote early. The result: A record number of Minnesotans are voting before Election Day.

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More than 170,000 Minnesota voters have already cast their ballots in early voting, a huge jump from years past.

"You've always been able to vote absentee, I guess, since the Civil War but you had to have an excuse like 'off fighting in a war,'" Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said Monday.

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The law change did away with the need for excuses, legitimate or not. Many voters have taken advantage of early voting, both in-person and by mail, he added.

"Compared to the last governor's race back in 2010, we're at over double the number that have been returned and accepted," Ritchie said. "We're somewhere above 170,000. There have been 225,000 that have been requested so we know that we're likely to stay at this very high rate."

Minnesotans have always been able to vote early, in person, at the city clerk or county courthouse. That continues until 5 p.m. today. Most polling places open at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

Ritchie said he expects about a 60 percent voter turnout and hopes Minnesota will lead voter turnout among states for the 10th election in a row.