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Absentee ballots mailing
Absentee ballots for the November 8, 2022 general election will be mailed starting Friday, September 23.

Absentee voting and other ways to vote

Find information on how eligible voters in Hennepin County can vote early by mail or in person.

COVID-19 response

Voters must follow county and local COVID-19 policies. Do not enter county buildings if you are sick. Learn about requirements when visiting a county building.

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Before absentee ballots can be counted, they must be accepted. Upon receipt, ballots are inspected to ensure they meet all the requirements to be counted. The signature and ID information must match those on the absentee ballot application. Ballot envelopes are then marked either accepted or rejected.

Accepted absentee ballots

  • Accepted ballots are held in a secure location until counting begins.
  • Absentee ballot counting starts at 5 p.m. seven days before Election Day.

Rejected absentee ballots

Rejected ballots will not be counted. Voters whose ballots were rejected will receive a replacement.

Common reasons ballots are rejected

Ballots are not rejected for a missing secrecy envelope. Common reasons ballots are rejected:

  • Voter did not sign the signature envelope.
  • Voter’s ID number did not match the one used on their application.
    • Put both your driver’s license number and last four digits of your Social Security number on your signature envelope. This reduces the chance your absentee ballot will be rejected.
  • Put both your driver’s license number and last four digits of your Social Security number on your signature envelope. This reduces the chance your absentee ballot will be rejected.
  • Voter did not have a witness.
  • Non-registered voter did not fill out their Election Day registration form.
  • Ballot was not received by Election Day.

How absentee ballots are counted

Ballot processing is always done by a team of two or more people. Each team handles one polling place or precinct at a time. This process starts at 5 p.m. seven days before Election Day. The steps are:

1. Count the unopened ballot envelopes.

2. Compare the count to the voter database to make sure every accepted ballot is counted.

3. Separate the ballot secrecy envelope from the signature envelope.

  • This process eliminates a connection between a voter’s identity and their vote.
  • Signature envelopes are set aside.

4. Ballots are then run through a high-speed ballot counter.

5. Elections officials are not allowed to access or release results until the polls close at 8 p.m. on Election Day.

  • Absentee votes are combined with results from the polling place and then released.

6. Absentee ballot materials are retained as required by statute and rules.

Videos: How absentee ballots are counted

How to apply

Apply online or print and complete an absentee ballot application (PDF) and return it to us by:

Mail

Hennepin County Elections
Government Center
300 S. 6th St MC 012
Minneapolis, MN 55487-0012

Email

hc.vote@hennepin.us

Fax

612-348-2151

Prepare to vote

After you receive the absentee ballot you applied for, follow the instructions that are included. Absentee ballots are mailed starting 46 days before Election Day.

There is more information on this page for how to vote absentee by mail or absentee in person.

Items you will receive

  • Ballot
  • Tan ballot envelope
  • White signature envelope
  • Voter registration application (for non-registered voters only)
  • Larger white return envelope
  • Instructions for completing and returning your ballot

Contact us if any of the above items are missing.

You will also need:

  • A blue or black ink pen
  • Your Minnesota driver’s license or state ID number or the last four digits of your Social Security number
  • A witness who is registered to vote in Minnesota. This could be your spouse, a relative, a notary public, or someone with the authority to administer oaths.

Registered voters

1. Follow instruction on the ballot to vote.

  • Show your witness your blank ballot.
  • Do not write your name or ID number on the ballot.
  • Do not vote for more candidates than allowed. If you do, your votes for that office will not count.

2. Seal your ballot in the tan ballot envelope. Do not write on this envelope.

3. Put the tan envelope into the white signature envelope.

4. Fill out the white signature envelope.

  • Print your Minnesota driver’s license or state ID number or the last four digits of your Social Security number — use the same number you used on your absentee ballot application.
  • Read and sign the oath.
  • Have your witness print their name and Minnesota street address (not a P.O. box), including the city, and sign their name.
  • Seal the envelope.

5. Put the white signature envelope into the larger white return envelope. This protects your private information.

6. Return your ballot by mail, or you or someone you choose can drop it off at your local election office. See the Vote by mail, Vote in person or Vote by agent sections below.

Non-registered voters

1. Fill out the voter registration application and sign it.

2. Show your witness your driver’s license or other authorized proof of where you live.

3. Show your witness your blank ballot.

4. Follow instruction on the ballot to vote. Mark your votes in private.

  • Do not write your name or ID number on the ballot.
  • Do not vote for more candidates than allowed. If you do, your votes for that office will not count.

5. Seal your ballot in the tan ballot envelope. Do not write on this envelope.

6. Put the tan envelope and the voter registration application into the white signature envelope.

7. Fill out the white signature envelope completely.

  • Print your Minnesota driver’s license or state ID card number or the last four digits of your Social Security number — use the same number you used on your absentee ballot application.
  • Read and sign the oath.
  • Have your witness indicate which proof you showed them, print their name and Minnesota street address (not a P.O. box), including the city, and sign their name.
  • Seal the envelope.

8. Put the white signature envelope into the larger white return envelope. This protects your private information.

9. Return your ballot by mail or you or someone else you choose can drop it off at your local election office. See the Vote by mail, Vote in person or Vote by agent sections below.

Deadline for return

To be counted, your ballot must be received on or before Election Day. We recommend mailing your ballot back at least 7 days before Election Day or dropping it off in person.

Check the status of your absentee ballot.

Printable instructions

Avoid common mistakes

  • Don't leave the witness section blank or incomplete.
  • Read the instructions.
  • Use a blue or black ink pen to mark your ballot.
  • Use the same ID number (driver’s license or state ID or the last 4 digits of your Social Security number) on your signature envelope that you used on your application. It's a good idea to put down both numbers in both places.
  • Remember to sign the white signature envelope.

Accessible ballot available

Voters who have impaired vision or difficulty physically marking a ballot can receive a ballot in an accessible format. Voters will still be required to return their ballot in paper form to their local election office. Learn more about the steps to request and complete an accessible ballot (PDF).

How to apply

Apply online or print and complete an absentee ballot application (PDF). Return the application to us by:

Mail

Hennepin County Elections
Government Center
300 S. 6th St MC 012
Minneapolis, MN 55487-0012

Email

hc.vote@hennepin.us

Fax

612-348-2151

When you'll receive your mailed ballot

Your ballot will be mailed to you within a day or two of your application being received. Absentee ballots are mailed starting 46 days before Election Day.

How to return your voted absentee ballot

Return your voted ballot by mail or in person.

By mail

Mail your ballot back in the pre-paid, pre-addressed envelope that was provided with your ballot materials.

Ballots must be received by Election Day.

  • If you don't think your ballot will be received in time using regular mail, you may choose to pay for an express delivery service.

In person or drop-off

Ballots may be returned in person to:

Return ballots by 3 p.m. on Election Day. You can drop off your ballot and ballots for up to three voters.

Accessible ballot available

Voters who have impaired vision or difficulty physically marking a ballot can receive a ballot in an accessible format. Voters will still be required to return their ballot in paper form to their local election office.  Learn more about the steps to request and complete an accessible ballot (PDF).

Eligible voters may vote absentee in-person at their local election office or at the Hennepin County Government Center (skyway level). In-person absentee voting starts 46 days before Election Day. Dates and times vary by location.

Government Center (skyway level) in-person absentee voting dates and times

Open for absentee voting for 2022 general election

September 23 – October 28: 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (Monday – Friday)
October 29: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
October 31 – November 4: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
November 5: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
November 7: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Virtual queue available

Voters planning to vote early in person at the Government Center can join a virtual line to help manage voter flow and reduce wait time.

  • Voters may join the virtual line in-person at the greeter station on the skyway level or,
  • By texting "Elections" to 612-662-8436.
    • This will add you to the queue before your arrival
    • If prompted for the name of the location whose line you are trying to join type "Elections"
    • Respond "1" for Agent Delivery/Ballot Drop off
    • Respond "2" for Early/Absentee voting
    • You will be prompted for your name and then receive your estimated wait time

Local election office in-person voting locations, dates and times

Contact your municipality for in-person voting options and information.

Voters may authorize an agent to pick up and return an absentee ballot for them. This service is available only within the seven days preceding an election.

Each person/agent is allowed to deliver ballots for a maximum of three voters.

You can absentee vote by agent if you are a:

  • Patient in a hospital, residential treatment center, or nursing home
  • Resident of a group home
  • Resident of a battered women's shelter
  • Resident of an assisted living facility
  • Disabled voter
  • Voter who would have difficulty getting to the polls because of incapacitating health reasons

How to vote by agent

1. Choose someone to be your agent who:

  • You have a pre-existing relationship with
  • Is at least 18 years old
  • Is not a candidate in the election

2. Complete both the:

3. Have your agent bring the completed forms to either your local election office or to the Hennepin County Government Center to pick up your ballot. Dates, times and locations vary by election office.

  • Your agent can pick up a ballot until 2 p.m. on Election Day.

4. Your agent will be given your ballot to bring to you.

5. Vote your ballot.

6. Have your agent return your voted ballot to the office they picked it up at.

  • Your agent must show an ID with name and signature.
  • Voted ballots must be returned by 3 p.m. on Election Day at the latest.

Agent delivery/ballot drop-off by appointment

Voters may schedule an agent delivery appointment online.

  • You will be prompted for your name and phone number.
  • Select “Agent Delivery/Ballot Drop-Off”.
  • Select “Schedule a Flex Appointment for another day and time”.
  • Select your desired date and time.
  • You will be prompted for an email address and will then receive a confirmation number via text and email.
  • You will receive updates and notifications as your appointment time nears via SMS.

Learn more about voting using an agent.

Military voters, their dependents, and other U.S. citizens who are overseas may be eligible to vote absentee under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).

Eligibility

  • Members of the uniformed services or merchant marine — Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine, the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service, or the commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and will be absent from your precinct on Election Day due to your service.
  • Spouses and dependents of a member of the uniformed services or merchant marine.
  • Temporarily overseas — if you are a citizen who would be qualified to vote at your polling location in Minnesota if you were not overseas.
  • Indefinitely overseas — if you are a citizen who currently has no plans to return to Minnesota, but you maintained residence in Minnesota for at least 20 days immediately prior to your departure from the United States. Voters who are indefinitely overseas are permitted to vote only for the offices of president, vice president, senator in Congress, and representative in Congress.

How to apply for an absentee ballot

Online

To complete the online absentee ballot application to vote absentee while in the military or overseas, you must:

  • Be eligible to complete the federal postcard application (PDF)
  • Provide an email address
  • Provide your identification number from either your Minnesota driver's license, your Minnesota ID card or the last four (4) digits of your Social Security number

If you can't provide an email address and one of the identification numbers listed above, you cannot apply online and must submit a paper application.

By mail, email, FAX or in person

You need to complete and submit a federal postcard application (PDF). Your spouse, parent, sibling or child older than 18, may complete and submit the form for you.

Use one of the following methods to complete the form:

Submit your application by mail, FAX or in person to our contact information at the top right of the page. Or you can email it to us at ts.vote.uocava@hennepin.us.

How to submit your voted ballot

Regardless of how you received the ballot, you must return your voted ballot by mail to the election official the ballot was received from.

Frequently asked questions

When can a military or overseas voter apply?

You may submit an federal postcard application (PDF) any time during the year. However, you should submit it as far ahead of the election as possible to avoid delays in receiving your ballot.

Can a military or overseas voter receive a ballot electronically?

Yes. You can receive the ballot by mail, fax or email. You will need to indicate on your application how you would like to receive the ballot.

Can a military or overseas voter return a voted ballot electronically?

No. Regardless of how you received the ballot, you must return your voted ballot by mail to the election official the ballot was received from.

When should a military or overseas voter expect to get a ballot?

Ballots are sent out by election officials at least 45 days prior to the election. For those voters whose applications were received fewer than 45 days before the election, ballots are sent as quickly as possible.

Ballots sent by mail are airmailed to addresses outside the continental U.S. Your ballot will be sent to you by an express mail service if you provide a prepaid envelope to the county auditor’s office. Note: Your voted ballot must arrive back at the county no later than Election Day to be counted.

What if a military or overseas voter doesn’t receive a ballot?

If you submit timely absentee ballot applications but never receive your ballot or you are concerned that you will not be able to return your ballot in time to be counted, you may submit the federal write-in absentee ballot (PDF) as an alternative.

This type of ballot allows you to write in choices for all offices. For federal offices you may indicate your choice by writing in a candidate name or political party. When voting for state or local offices on this ballot, you must write the name of the candidate (not just the party) for your vote to be counted.

How long is a military or overseas voter application valid?

An application is valid from the time the application is received through the end of that calendar year or through the next regularly scheduled state general election, whichever is later. You may specify a different end date in box 6 of the application (e.g., "General election only"). A ballot will be sent automatically for all elections during that time in which you are eligible to vote. You must reapply each year in which you need a ballot or if your overseas mailing address changes.

Can a military or overseas voter self-certify a ballot?

Minnesota allows you to self-certify your federal postcard application, your ballot return envelope, and the federal write-in absentee ballot . You can do this by using the same passport number, Minnesota driver's license or state ID number, or the last 4 digits of your Social Security number on all forms throughout the process. If you do not have access to any of these documents, you may attest to the truthfulness of the information under penalty of perjury. For assistance, overseas citizens should contact the U.S. embassy or consulate, and military personnel should contact their voting assistance officer (VAO).

Can I have an absentee application sent to me automatically for every election?

If you would like to automatically receive an application for an absentee ballot before each election, you may complete an application to automatically receive absentee ballot applications (PDF).

Absentee voting by mail for non-registered voters requires a witness (either a Minnesota voter or a notary public). Due to COVID-19, what options do I have for obtaining a witness while following recommended CDC and Minnesota Department of Health guidelines like social distancing?

Ask a family member, friend, or neighbor to witness your blank ballot through a window, a vehicle window, open door or other physical barrier. Pass the signature envelope through an opening and have them sign it. Or, ask a food delivery person, mail delivery carrier, medical professional or personal care assistant to be your witness. Or, have a video chat with your witness, then put your official ballot envelope outside your door or in a mailbox for your witness to sign. You can also use a notary or e-notary as a witness. Find a regular or e-notary.

Why did I receive a pre-filled absentee ballot application?

Several organizations send out mailings to increase voter participation. Mailings can include information regarding voter registration status, along with pre-filled absentee ballot and voter registration applications. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of data used by these organizations. Please contact our office with questions at hc.vote@hennepin.us or 612-348-5151.

Can I check the status of my absentee ballot or ballot application?

Yes, at https://mnvotes.sos.state.mn.us/AbsenteeBallotStatus.aspx

I voted absentee in the primary. Will I automatically receive an absentee ballot for the general election?

You may have requested both the primary and general election ballots on the same absentee ballot application. If you applied for both elections, you will automatically be sent your general election ballot and do not need to apply again. To check if you’ve already requested a ballot for the general election please use the ballot status tracker at mnvotes.org.

I fear for my safety. What options do I have to vote absentee?

Your name and address are public when you register to vote. If you have safety or privacy concerns, learn more about ways to vote and keep your name and address confidential.

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