You may vote if you are:
• at least 18 years of age
• a US citizen
• a Minnesota resident for at least 20 days before the election
Your polling place will be in your precinct. You can find out your precinct number and where to vote by contacting:
• Your county auditor or city clerk
• Minnesota Secretary of State
You need to register and be placed on the official list of voters before you can vote. You can add your name to the list by filling out a Voter Registration Application. When you fill out the application, you must give the address where you are living at the time of the election. If you are a student living at school, you can register either at home or at school (but not both!) depending on your residence. It is illegal to vote at a former residence because the new occupants will be using that address. It is strongly recommended that you bring proof of identity when you vote.
Registering to Vote on Election Day
(Same Day Registration)
In the state of Minnesota, any eligible voter can register to vote at the polls on Election Day. Same day registration will require voters to step into another line and fill out the voter registration card. If you haven’t registered to vote before election day, follow these guidelines to make sure that you have everything you need to register and vote on election day.
You will need only ONE of the following acceptable forms of identification to verify your residence:
• A current, valid Minnesota Driver’s License, learner’s permit, identification card (or receipt for a new one), or tribal ID containing your current address in the precinct, OR
• A “Notice of Late Registration” card mailed to you by your county auditor (if you turned in a registration card late), OR
• A person who is registered in the precinct where you live to vouch for your residence, OR
• A US passport, US military identification card, tribal ID or student identification card that—
• includes your name and photo AND an original bill for water, sewer, gas, electric, phone/cell phone, solid waste or cable television services that includes your name and current address in the precinct and has a due date within 30 days of election day. OR
If you are a student, you can also use one of the following documents to register to vote:
• Student photo ID, registration or fee statement with your current address
• Student photo ID if you are on a student housing list on file at the polling place
Registering to Vote by Having Someone Vouch for You
A registered voter who lives in the precinct is allowed to vouch for the residence of another voter on Election Day. A person can vouch for up to 15 individuals, as long as they are certain of their residence in the precinct. For example, if you go to the polls with your neighbor, he or she is allowed to tell the election judge that you live in the precinct, and his or her word will be accepted as proof of your residence.
The person vouching for you must live in your precinct. There is one exception to this rule: if you live in a registered residential facility, such as a nursing home or homeless shelter, employees of that facility may vouch for you, and any other residents who require a voucher on Election Day (there is no limit to the number of residents an employee can vouch for in this case).
Voting by Absentee Ballot
You can vote by absentee ballot if you are unable to vote in person because you are:
- Away from home
- Ill or disabled
- An election judge serving in another precinct
- Unable to go to the polling place due to a religious holiday or beliefs
To vote by absentee ballot, submit a written application to your county auditor or city clerk. You can cast your absentee ballot either in person at a location designated by your county auditor or by mail. You may also request to be placed on an on-going absentee balloting list, where each and every year your absentee ballot will be mailed to your residence as long as your residence has not changed. You can remain on this list until you request to be removed.
There are limited cases in which you cannot vote:
• You are under court-ordered guardianship in which the court order revokes your rights to vote
• You have been found by a court to be legally incompetent to vote
Minnesota law allows you to take time off from work to vote during the morning of the state primary and state general election. The idea is to encourage people to vote early in the day.
Registering Ex-Felons to Vote
When a person is convicted of a felony they lose their civil rights. What many people don’t know is that as soon as they complete their sentence, including probation, their civil rights are reinstated. This is widely misunderstood, and many felons believe that have permanently lost their right to vote.
- Minnesota statute says that a convicted felon loses his or her civil rights, including the right to vote. It also stipulates that a felon’s civil rights are automatically reinstated when he or she completes their sentence. Completing a sentence means that they have completed all parole, probation, and any other terms of their sentence. This is also known as being “off-paper”. Once a person completes their sentence they have the right to vote. See Minnesota statute 609.165 for more details.
- An ex-felon can register to vote at any time, including using same-day registration. When they go to the polls, there may or may not be the word “challenged” next to their name on the voter rolls. If they are challenged, they should speak to the head elections judge. The judge may ask some questions and then will have the person take a brief oath assuring the judge that they have the right to vote. Once they have taken the oath they are allowed to vote. See Minnesota Statute 204C.12 for more details.
- If a person is at all unsure whether or not they have completed their sentence they should check with their parole officer or the county. It is a felony if they register to vote before they have completed their sentence and probation and their civil rights have been reinstated.
- If they have completed their sentence they can and should register and vote!
How Victims of Domestic Violence Can Register to Vote Anonymously
Many victims of domestic violence are afraid to register to vote because they do not want their address and other information to be available to the public. However, there are a couple of ways that they can register without their information going on the public voter rolls.
- A victim of domestic violence can ask the county auditor to allow them to register without adding their name and information to the public voting rolls. Many police officers and judges use this same process. The victim must provide the county auditor with a written request to have their information taken off the public rolls for fear of the safety of the voter or the voter’s family. It is highly recommended that the voter attach this written request to your voter registration application at the time of registration. NOTE: Prior to 2005, a court order was required to remove one’s name from the public voting rolls. All that is required now is a simple written request stating that the voter fears for their safety and wishes to be removed from the public rolls.
- If they do so, their name will appear on the rolls at the polling place, but will not appear on the file that can be purchased by the general public.
- A victim of domestic violence may also vote by absentee ballot if they are only temporarily residing at a shelter or other residence. In this case, they should have the absentee ballot sent to them at their temporary residence, but use their permanent address when filling it out.
- A victim of domestic violence may use a shelter or group home as their address when registering to vote. They may also use the home of a friend or family member if they are currently living at that home.
- A victim of domestic violence can also register to vote same day, vote, and then ask their county elections office to remove them from the rolls. This request should be made in writing and sent to their county elections office. It should be noted that it may take some time for the county elections office to process such a request. If they choose this option, they will have to re-register the next time they vote.
- As of 2005, victims of domestic violence living in a registered shelter may also register to vote on Election Day using a shelter employee as a voucher. Provided the facility has submitted a list of employees 20 days prior to the election to the county auditor, each employee can vouch for an unlimited number of residents of the shelter.
Voter Registration for Persons Experiencing Homelessness
Although some voter registration policies and practices may impose requirements that interfere with or preclude registration by people who are homeless, there are options that can enable the process to run smoothly.
- A person who is homeless or between permanent residences can register to vote using the address of a shelter where they are staying. They can pre-register using that address, which will be most effective if they plan to be living there at least some of the time up until Election Day.
- Alternatively, they can register same day using a voucher. This may be a resident of the precinct who can vouch under oath that the person registering to vote lives in the precinct, or it may be a homeless shelter employee that can vouch for the registrant’s residence at the shelter. There is no limit on the number of individuals a homeless shelter employee can vouch for on the day of the election.
- If a person who is homeless does not have an ID or does not know the last four digits of their social security number when they pre-register by mail, their application may be “challenged.” On Election Day they can complete their registration and vote if they bring a voucher with them.
- Applicants can also draw a map to indicate where he or she lives “if the applicant lives in a rural district or has a non-traditional address” (National Voter Registration Act of 1993). This means that homeless people who can identify a street corner, park bench, etc. as their home base by drawing a map should not be prevented from registering to vote for failing to provide a traditional residential address.