Wright Co. reports record number of requests for absentee ballots; others up, too

Oct. 13, 2008

Members of military, college students might wish to take advantage of voting via absentee ballot

By Lynda Jensen

The volume of requests for absentee ballots is up according to Wright and Meeker county offices.

“We’re setting a record,” commented Wright County Auditor/Treasurer Bob Hiivala. To date, his office has processed 1,594 applications – receiving about 50 over day – compared to a total of 1,500 in 2006, he said.

In Meeker County, Auditor Barbara Loch reported a higher volume as well, although the figures are hard to gauge after only 10 days of accepting absentee requests, she said. So far, her office has processed 400 ballot requests. The tempo of the election “feels faster,” she added.

Absentee requests can be made online, in person or fax

Residents who will be unable to personally visit the polls on election day, but who still wish to vote, may do so by casting an absentee ballot ahead of time.

College students should vote wherever their permanent home is located.

Since the ballot can be obtained various ways (online, in person or even fax) – but must be returned by regular mail – it is recommended that those who wish to take advantage of this service do so by Tuesday, Oct. 28, since ballots received late will be discarded. The Secretary of State has the general request form, as well as the military request form, posted online (but the ballot itself must be returned via regular mail, so take this into account when you do this. The ballot must be received by 5 p.m. the day before the election).

The Saturday before election day offers a variety of different locations to cast absentee ballots before the election, since each county auditor’s office will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

In addition, the City of Cokato is also open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1 to offer absentee ballot services.

Wright County

The following Wright County cities are doing their own absentee voting, and residents of those cities should make requests directly to the city:

City of Cokato
255 Broadway Ave. S
PO Box 1030
Cokato MN 55321

City of Delano
234 2nd Street N
PO Box 108
Delano MN 55328

Township residents, or any others living outside these areas, should make contact with the Wright County auditor by mailing a request to:

Absentee Voting
C/O Wright County Auditor/Treasurer
10 2nd Street NW, Room 230
Buffalo MN 55313-1195

Meeker County

In Meeker County, all of the requests for absentee ballots are being handled directly at the county headquarters in Litchfield. Therefore, requests for absentee ballots must be made to the Litchfield office; however there is a form online at www.sos.state.mn.us or the request can also be faxed to (320) 693-5217.

Written requests should be mailed to the following:

Meeker County Auditor
Courthouse Level 4
325 Sibley Ave. N.
Litchfield, MN 55355

Military absentee ballots

Military personnel and civilians who are temporarily or permanently overseas, military personnel who are stationed in the US but away from their hometown, and their spouses and dependents, are eligible to vote in Minnesota by absentee ballot under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.

Frequently asked questions about military absentee ballots:

The following questions and answers are supplied by the Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.

How to apply

The easiest way for these kinds of voters to apply for an absentee ballot is to use the Minnesota Military and Overseas Voter Service online.

This helps the respective voter to complete a federal postcard application to apply for an absentee ballot.

Those who choose not to use the military voter service may instead download and complete the federal postcard application to apply for an absentee ballot.

In addition, a voter’s spouse, parent, sibling or child over 18 years old may apply for an absentee ballot on the voter’s behalf and may submit the federal postcard application by fax or by mail.

Military personnel may fax their federal postcard application toll free to DSN 223-5527.

When can I apply?

There is no due date for the federal postcard application; you may submit it anytime during the year. However, you should submit it as far ahead of the election as possible to avoid delays in receiving your ballot.

Can I receive a ballot electronically?

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

Can I return my 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 I expect to get my ballot?

Ballots are sent out by election officials, upon receipt of the federal postcard application, at least 30 days prior to the election; ballots are sent as quickly as possible for those voters whose applications were received fewer than 30 days before the election.

Ballots sent by mail are airmailed to addresses outside the continental US. A ballot will be sent to the voter by an express mail service if a prepaid envelope is provided to the county auditor’s office. Note: A voted ballot must arrive back at the county no later than election day to be counted.

How long is my application valid?

An application is valid for two federal election cycles, or you may include a specific end date in box 6 of the application. A federal election cycle is the regular occurrence of an election with a federal office on the ballot and includes both a primary election, if needed, and a general election.

This occurs every even-numbered year. A ballot will be sent automatically for all elections in which the applicant is eligible to vote. After two federal election cycles, the voter must reapply. A voter must reapply if their overseas mailing address changes.

Can I self-certify my ballot?

Minnesota allows military voters to self-certify their federal postcard application, their ballot return envelope, and the FWAB. This can be accomplished by using the same passport, MN driver’s license or state ID number, or the last 4 digits of the social security number on all forms throughout the process. For assistance, overseas citizens should contact the US embassy or consulate, and military personnel should contact their Voting Assistance Officer (VAO).

Reasons to vote absentee

In Minnesota, citizens are allowed to vote absentee for the following reasons, according to Secretary of State Mark Ritchie:

• absent from the precinct
• illness or disability
• serving as an election judge in another precinct
• religious discipline or religious holiday or observance
• eligible emergency declared by the governor or quarantine declared by the federal or state government.

Absentee ballots can be cast Sat. before election day

The Saturday before election day – that is Saturday, Nov. 1 – offers a variety of different locations to cast absentee ballots before the election, since each county auditor’s office is required to be open for absentee balloting from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on that day, and until 5 p.m. on the day before the election.

In addition, the City of Cokato is also open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1 to offer absentee ballot services for city residents.

Do you know more about this subject, or have a comment? E-mail: news@heraldjournal.com