Early voting for November elections has begun. Here's what to know

A pair of hands prepares a mail-in ballot.
Each absentee ballot packet contains an “I Voted” sticker, just like the one you get when voting in person.
Paul Middlestaedt for MPR News

Early voting for Minnesota’s fall 2023 elections begins Friday and ends Nov. 6, the day before Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

While there are no statewide or federal elections on the ballot this year, cities and towns across Minnesota will vote on mayors, city council and school board members. Many are also holding special elections for vacant seats, ballot questions or both.

Voters can always cast a ballot on Election Day, but Minnesotans also have options to vote early, both by mail and in person.

What are some reasons to vote early?

Voting early is completely optional. It can be a convenient option for people with disabilities, people who have other obligations or will be out of town on Election Day, or people who simply don’t want to wait in any potential lines on Election Day.

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How do I vote early by mail?

Mail, fax or email a completed absentee ballot application to your county election office. Here’s how to find information on yours. You don’t need to be registered to vote to apply for an absentee ballot — if you aren’t registered to vote, you will receive materials to register to vote with your absentee ballot. Check your registration status here.

After receiving your ballot application, the election office will mail you a ballot. You’ll complete your ballot and have a witness sign it. The witness must be a registered Minnesota voter or a notary. Then return your ballot to your county election office by 8 p.m. on Election Day (Nov. 7). If you return your ballot by mail, it must be received by Election Day, so mail it a few days in advance.

People serving in the military or living abroad can also apply for absentee ballots. Find more information on that here.

How do I vote early in person?

The Secretary of State’s office says all voters in Minnesota have at least one location where they can vote early in person. This list of locations includes hours of operation.

If you aren’t yet registered to vote, you can do that in person, too, by bringing one of the options listed here as proof of residence or bringing someone who is registered to vote in your precinct who can vouch for you. Check here to see if you’re registered to vote already.

Early voting will also be available at all locations on Saturday, Nov. 4 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Early voting in person ends 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 6.

How do I know if my ballot was counted?

Here’s where you can track the status of an absentee or mail-in ballot. Or just call your county election office.

How do I know if there’s an election happening where I live?

Municipal elections

The following jurisdictions have municipal elections this year, voting on mayoral or city council candidates: Aurora, Bloomington, Circle Pines, Duluth, Falcon Heights, Golden Valley, Hopkins, Lino Lakes, Mahtomedi, Minneapolis, Minnetonka, Rushford, St. Anthony, St. Louis Park, St. Paul, St. Paul Park, St. Peter, White Bear Lake and White Township.

Many Minnesotans will also vote in school district elections. These are most often for voting to choose school board members.

School districts with municipal elections this fall are Anoka-Hennepin, Bloomington, Duluth, East Central, Edina, Fridley, Hastings, Hinckley-Finlayson, Holdingford, Hopkins, Inver Grove Heights, Minnetonka, Mounds View, Mountain Lake, Ogilvie, Richfield, Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan, Roseville, Rothsay, Rush City, South Washington County, Spring Lake Park, St. Anthony-New Brighton, St. Louis Park, St. Paul, St. Peter, Wayzata, West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan and Westonka.

Special elections

Special elections can be called for things like filling vacant offices or voting on ballot questions.

For example, Beltrami County will vote “yes” or “no” this election cycle on a jail sales tax. A “yes” vote is in favor of new county jail construction being funded mostly through sales and use tax. A “no” vote means the jail costs would be funded through increased property taxes. 

And in Minnetonka, a special election ballot question asks voters to weigh in on repealing ranked choice voting as the method for electing a mayor and city council members.

These are just two examples of the kinds of questions that will be on ballots all around the state.

Special elections can take place on a normal Election Day or a different time of year. 

Does my city, county or school district have a special election this Election Day?

The following jurisdictions vote on special election questions on Election Day: Beltrami County, Apple Valley, Edina, Marshall, North Branch and Rochester.

These counties will vote in special elections for vacant county commissioner seats: Koochiching County District 5, Lake County District 1 and Todd County District 3.

In Waseca and Wilkin counties, voters have a special primary election for county commissioners on Nov. 7, and then a general election for these seats on Feb. 13.

Appleton, Lonsdale, Mounds View and Rosemount all have special elections for city vacancies.

Some school districts have special elections this year with both ballot questions and vacancies: Columbia Heights, Montevideo, Brooklyn Center, Laporte, Fisher, Stillwater, Chisago Lakes and Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop.

These school districts also have questions on the ballot: St. Francis Area, Mankato, Crosby-Ironton, Pequot Lakes, Farmington, Lakeville, Osakis, Alden-Conger, Osseo, Spring Grove, Deer River, Grand Rapids, Willmar, Eden Valley-Watkins, Grand Meadow, Adrian, Stewartville, Rochester, Battle Lake, Goodridge, New Prague Area, Medford, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg, Browerville, Wabasha-Kellogg, Lewiston-Altura, Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose, Minnewaska, Wadena-Deer Creek, Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart, Fillmore Central, Clearbrook-Gonvick, West Central Area, Martin County West, BOLD, Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted, Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton, Lac qui Parle Valley, Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley, Lake Park Audubon and Russell-Tyler-Ruthton.

And these districts are holding special elections for school district vacancies: South St. Paul, Barnum, Carlton, Bagley, Nashwauk-Keewatin, International Falls, Lynd, LeRoy-Ostrander, Worthington, Nett Lake, Mountain Iron-Buhl, Melrose, Butterfield, Cambridge-Isanti, Kingsland, Pipestone Area and Westbrook-Walnut Grove.

How do I find out which candidates and questions are on my ballot?

Enter your address information into the state’s ballot finder to view a sample of what you’ll be voting on, including the names of those running and any questions you’ll be casting a vote on.