It's primary day: Polls open across Minnesota

a woman next to a sign saying vote
An election judge wearing a face shield awaits primary election voters at a polling site at Moorhead city hall. Alice Volochenko said she has worked as an election judge since 1983.
Dan Gunderson | MPR News

Polls have opened around Minnesota Tuesday, with voters marking primary ballots for races around the state.

Minneapolis has some of the most hotly contested races of the primary season, with veteran legislators running against their own party endorsements, and the most expensive contested Congressional election in the country.

Grace Wachlarowicz, the city’s election director, said they’re expecting a robust turnout. "I would say that its a repeat of 2018. We had a very strong 2018 midyear turnout, which was, I think it was about 42 percent."

She said election managers have been expanding alternate voting procedures, including curbside voting and drive-thru ballot drop off to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions.

Minnesota experienced a surge in absentee and early voting ahead of Tuesday’s primary; the results of some races may not be immediately known because officials must count mail-in ballots that trickle in later under safety rules imposed due to the pandemic.

According to the Secretary of State’s office, 637,463 absentee ballots had been requested and 423,032 had been returned and accepted as of Monday. That well exceeds the total of 294,797 voters who participated in the 2016 primary. And that total for requests doesn't include rural precincts where all voting is conducted exclusively by mail. Those automatically sent ballots raise the potential mail-in total to over 849,000.

Secretary of State Steve Simon is urging voters to be patient as they wait for the results. Absentee ballots received Wednesday or Thursday will still be counted as long as they're postmarked by Tuesday. And the switch toward absentee voting has required a “massive effort” by counties, cities and townships, he said in a statement. So, Simon said, it might take a few days, or up to a week, until ballots are all in and counted.

Simon stressed that the delays won't mean anything went wrong. And he said the wait for final results will take even longer for the Nov. 3 general election, when officials will count absentee ballots that arrive as many as seven days later.

Before you go...

MPR News is dedicated to bringing you clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives when we need it most. We rely on your help to do this. Your donation has the power to keep MPR News strong and accessible to all during this crisis and beyond.