Minnesota braces for surge of mail-in ballots amid pandemic election

In the last presidential election in Minnesota in 2016 just over 689,000 Minnesotans mailed in absentee ballots and 12,461 of them were rejected, or 1.8 percent.

This year the number of mailed-in ballots could double, and so could the number of rejections. That could have a big impact if there’s a razor-thin margin in a statewide or congressional race.

"Campaigns are lawyering up already to fight the ballot wars concerning mail-in balloting," says Carleton College political analyst Steven Schier."

A recent Washington Post report found that 540,000 ballots were rejected across 23 states in this year’s primaries. The most common reasons for rejection are arriving too late or lacking a voter signature.

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"We know there will be mail-in ballots rejected," Schier says. "There will be questions about whether these are valid votes. It’s going to be litigated all over the country. It’s going to be a mess, frankly."

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon hopes to avoid a mess by urging voters to mail in their ballots as soon as they know who they plan to vote for.

"My number one ask as secretary of state of everyone in Minnesota is to please consider voting from home this year and making use of the U.S. Mail," Simon said at an event this week promoting mail-in voting.

President Donald Trump says he supports absentee balloting like Minnesota has because you have to request a ballot and be approved before it’s sent to you. He told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS in an interview last week he’s strongly opposed to "universal" mail-in voting where states send ballots to all registered voters automatically.

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"What they want to do is send millions of ballots out just indiscriminately all over," he said in Mankato last week during a campaign stop. "They want to send millions and millions of ballots out. You can’t do that."

But nine states and the District of Columbia plan to do that starting next month.