Drive-through ballot drop-off begins Friday for Minneapolis

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The Minneapolis Elections and Voter Service starting Friday will have drive-through options for voters returning their completed mail ballots.

The mail ballots can be dropped off at two locations from now until Aug. 11 at:

  • Minneapolis Elections & Voter Services (980 East Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55414)
  • Hennepin County Government Center in skyway level (300 South 6th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55487)

Voters will be able to stay in their vehicles or on their bikes when dropping off the ballots to make the process faster and more convenient and maintain a good physical distance to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

Election officials in Minneapolis said the drive-through option is new and that they are the only city in the state using this method.

"We learned a lot from our colleagues across the country with early primaries," said Grace Wachlarowicz, director of Elections and Voter Services. "We’re trying to be as creative as possible to provide as many options as possible for all our voters."

The process is simple. A poll worker will verify a voter’s identification information and signature is on the absentee ballot. If any information is missing, voters will have the opportunity to correct it before the ballot is accepting by election officials.

"We will be busy the next few days, but we will be ready," Wachlarowicz said. "We will make sure it is counted accurately and securely."

The city of Minneapolis recommends ballots not be mailed back because, less than a week before the Aug. 11 primary, they may not be delivered in time to be counted.

Dozens of voters took advantage of this option Friday. For many the process took less than a minute.

"I just wanted to get it done as soon as possible and make sure it was in there," said John Orrison, who rode his bike from his southeast Minneapolis home.

Orrison opted in to absentee voting to avoid going to his normal polling location because of the pandemic.

"We got a big job ahead of us to contain this virus," he said.

RELATED: KSTP’s Full Election 2020 Coverage

Hours for Minneapolis Elections and Voter Services are:

  • Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Aug. 8, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Monday, Aug. 10, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Voters delivering their ballots the day of the state primary, Aug. 11, must bring it to the office no later than 3 p.m. Ballots may not be dropped off at polling places on Aug. 11.

For the state primary, a voter’s ballot will count as long as it is postmarked on or before the primary (Aug. 11) and is received in the mail no later than two days after the primary (Aug. 13). This is a change from previous election law requiring mail ballots to be received by the day of the primary.

What’s on the ballot?

Minneapolis voters will cast ballots for the following primary races:

  • U.S. Senator
  • United States Representative (District 5)
  • State Senator and State Representative (some districts)
  • School Board Member at Large
  • School Board Member (some districts)

Voters who live in Ward 6 will also be voting in the special election to fill the vacant city council seat. Because this municipal race is conducted using Ranked Choice Voting, there is no primary election necessary.

State law allows voters to bring materials into the polls to help complete their ballots — and the sample ballot is the single, best tool available for this purpose. By downloading and printing their sample ballots (which are customized to their specific ward and precinct), voters can practice marking their ballots. They can bring this marked-up sample ballot as a reference to the voting booth when completing their official ballots. This is the best way to reduce the time spent waiting in lines.

To find sample ballots for all 134 Minneapolis precincts, click here.