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For Military Personnel, There Are Many Absentee Ballot Options

All this week, the Working Together blog has featured the various methods that Minnesotans can use to vote early in the 2020 general election, including in-personby mail, and through “Agent Delivery”. There are also absentee ballot options for active military personnel and Minnesotans currently living outside of the United States. 

Those eligible to apply for an absentee ballot are:

  • Military members serving outside their home precinct.
  • Citizens living abroad temporarily or indefinitely.
  • Spouses and dependents of military members are also eligible.

Military personnel include those serving in the “Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine, Commissioned corps of the Public Health Service, and Commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.”

A spouse, parent, sibling or child age 18 and over can apply on your behalf. And, the Minnesota Secretary of State reminds those living overseas indefinitely can only cast their vote for federal offices (i.e. President, Senate, House of Representatives). 

Given the limited time frame between now and election day, if you have yet to request your absentee ballot it is recommended that you do so online. Depending on your proximity to the U.S., it is also possible to download and submit and paper application.

There is no deadline to request an absentee ballot for military personnel, their families, or other Minnesotans living abroad, but voters are “encouraged to apply for your ballot as soon as you are able so that you have enough time to mail it back by Election Day.” The Minnesota Secretary of State recommends that when voting from overseas, you mail your absentee ballot no later than next Friday, October 2. Nevertheless, in order to ensure that your vote is counted, your ballot must be postmarked by Election Day, November 3 and arrive at your county elections office by November 10, 2020. 

Ballots can be submitted by mail, delivery services (such as Fed Ex, UPS, or DHL), or by diplomatic pouch at a US Embassy or Consulate. You are NOT allowed to submit your ballot by email or fax.

If you do not receive your absentee ballot in time to submit by the deadline, you can download and print an emergency ballot called the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB). The FWAB “will have blanks for you to write your choices.” As is the case with a regular absentee ballot, “your write-in ballot must be postmarked on or before Election Day (November 3, 2020) and received by your county within the next seven calendar days (November 10).” To track the status of your ballot and ensure it has been counted, please visit this dedicated page at the Secretary of State website. And, for more information on voting for military personnel or Minnesotans living abroad, click here.  

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