Tribes, Minneapolis remind voters they can avoid risk of COVID-19

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By Lee Egerstrom

With tribal, municipal and state elections approaching, Minnesota voters are reminded they can access absentee ballots and register to vote by mail in most elections to avoid exposure to the coronavirus pandemic.

Some tribal elections will be held in June. Most other local and state elections in Minnesota will start with primaries in August.

The city of Minneapolis said in a May 13 statement for city residents that all Minnesota voters are eligible to vote early by mail.

“Ballot applications should be made no later than 10 days before an election so the ballots can arrive in the mail with enough time for voters to return them,” the statement said.

The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe had postponed an earlier primary due to COVID-19, and that is rescheduled for June 9. The tribal general election is scheduled for Aug. 18.

Enrolled members of Bois Forte, Fond du Lac, Grand Portage, Leech Lake, Mille Lacs and White Earth bands should contact reservation offices for information. The Mille Lacs Band has a convenient absentee ballot request form on its website listed below.

The lead voting authority for state and national elections in Minnesota is the Secretary of State Office. It notes on a website that non-metropolitan cities and towns with less than 400 registered voters can hold elections by mail instead of voting at polling places.

All Minnesotans, however, can vote early by mail. The Secretary of State Office tells people opting to vote early by mail to read instructions carefully, have either a registered voter or notary witness when they vote, and mail the ballot and forms when they vote.

Mailed ballots not received by election days will not be counted.

For St. Paul and Ramsey County residents, election officials said that voting by mail can begin 46 days before each election. That means mail voting can begin for state primaries on June 26. Voting for the November general election can begin on Sept. 18.

Minneapolis said it its reminder that the city works closely with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Hennepin County to avoid problems with COVID-19 exposures.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages voting early by mail, it said, and the Minneapolis Elections and Voters Services support the CDC and MDH recommendations to insure every voter can safely cast ballots this election year.

For voter information that may affect you:
Minnesota Chippewa Tribe: https://www.mnchippewatribe.org/election_info.html

The Mille Lacs Band’s absentee ballot request is available at http://millelacsbandlegislativebranch.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Absentee-Ballot-Request-Form-2020-June-9th-2020.pdf

Minneapolis vote by mail request: http://vote.minneapolismn.gov

Ramsey County voting information: https://www.ramseycounty.us/residents/elections- voting/voters/vote-election-day

And Minnesota Secretary of State voting information:
https://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting  and
https://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/other-ways-to-vote/cities-and-towns-that-vote-by-mail