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Nobles County sees spike in early voting

WORTHINGTON -- As political candidates still scramble for votes from the undecided, more and more people are making decisions early and casting their ballots ahead of election day.

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A Nobles County voter takes advantage of early voting at the Government Center Friday morning. (Tim Middagh / The Globe)

WORTHINGTON - As political candidates still scramble for votes from the undecided, more and more people are making decisions early and casting their ballots ahead of election day.

The trend is recognized across Minnesota, which in 2014 made it possible for people to vote early without an excuse as to why they couldn’t vote on Election Day.

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said that as of Thursday morning, more than 476,000 absentee ballots had been requested in the state, and more than 410,200 were accepted by election officials - a 177 percent increase from the last statewide non-presidential election in 2014.

Nobles County is among those seeing an uptick in early voting. As of Thursday, 15 percent of the county’s 9,741 registered voters had cast their ballot for this midterm election.

According to Nobles County appointed auditor-treasurer Kris Ray, 1,472 ballots had been accepted by the end of the day Thursday. Those ballots are from absentee voters, as well as those who reside in the county’s 10 precincts that do mail-in ballots.

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Ray said 1,115 absentee ballots had been requested as of Thursday, with 1,275 mail ballots sent out from the county office. Nearly 62 percent of the ballots requested have been returned and accepted.

Early voting numbers this year compare to 605 absentee ballots cast in 2014 and 349 absentee ballots in 2010 (another midterm election year).

Minnesotans could begin to cast their ballots on Sept. 21, with the Nobles County Government Center in Worthington the designated spot for Nobles County voters to vote early.

“Closer to the election, there’s more people coming in here to vote,” Ray said.

As of Wednesday, voters who now stop in to vote before Election Day are able to do direct balloting, which means - like on Election Day at the precincts - they may place their ballot directly into the tabulator and know it has been accepted.

“If they had made an error such as an overvote, they get a message and have the option to correct it,” Ray said. Before Wednesday, voters had to place their ballots in an envelope.

Also on Wednesday, the auditor’s office started its absentee ballot board, and it’s going through all of the accepted envelopes containing absentee ballots.

“We can run them through the tabulator, but we can’t run election results until after 8 p.m. election night,” Ray said.

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On Tuesday, voters will need to vote in their precinct. Minnesota does allow individuals to register to vote at their precinct with an acceptable form of identification on election day. The most commonly used forms of ID include a valid Minnesota driver’s license or learner’s permit, or an identification card showing the individual’s current name and address.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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