If you want to vote in Minnesota while avoiding COVID-19, then you should vote by mail.

Otherwise known as absentee or mail-in voting, voting by mail is a safe and easy option—and if done correctly, you’ll have peace of mind that your vote was counted. Here’s how:

Step 1: Register to Vote (Optional)

While not required, the voting process is easier if you are registered to vote. Check your registration status here. Then if you need to register, apply here.

Step 2: Request a Ballot

You can request your absentee ballot here. Then you should double-check that your request was received here.

You can request a ballot anytime before election day (November 3rd), but waiting until the last minute leaves no time for the state to mail your ballot. Make your request sooner rather than later!

Step 3: Fill Out Your Ballot

Absentee ballots will start being mailed out on September 18th. Once you get your ballot, read and follow the directions carefully, as voting by mail involves more steps than voting in person.

One of the steps is to write down the ID you used to request an absentee ballot. If you forgot which ID you used, you can search for your absentee ballot status using various IDs to see which one works.

Step 4: Deposit Your Ballot

Your absentee ballot will come with instructions on how to mail your ballot back. Once you’ve sent your ballot, you can check the status of your vote. This is key; you should check back a couple weeks later to make sure your ballot arrived and will be counted on election day. If not, you can either request a new ballot from your election office or go vote in person (early or on election day).

If you don’t trust the mail, you can deposit your ballot directly to an election office. You deposit your ballot at the election office that sent your ballot. You can look up the offices here.

What If I’m Too Late To Mail My Ballot?

Suppose it’s election day (November 3rd), and you haven’t sent in an absentee ballot. Now what?

At this point, I would avoid mailing your ballot. If it fails to be postmarked on election day—or it somehow doesn’t make it to the election office within seven days—your vote may not get counted.

Instead, if it’s before 3 PM, you can still bring your absentee ballot directly to an election office. Do NOT go to your normal polling place (they won’t accept absentee ballots). You must go to the office that sent your ballot.

Otherwise, you can still vote in person! Requesting an absentee ballot does not invalidate your ability to vote in person. Just get in line at your polling place any time before 8 PM. You can even register to vote on election day. Minnesota makes it difficult to be too late to vote.

Need More Info?

This guide covers one specific scenario, so if you need more information, you can get it from the official Minnesota elections & voting website.

If you don’t live in Minnesota, check out FiveThirtyEight’s guide to voting in each state.


Many thanks to @eryno for fact checking and editing this post.

Cover image credit: "USPS mailboxes" by EraserGirl is licensed under CC BY 2.0 / cropped from original.