An increasing number of Minnesota voters, including those in Beltrami County, are requesting absentee ballots in advance of November’s general election. “We’re having a good incidence of absentee requests,” said Kay Mack, auditor/treasurer for Beltrami County. “We’ve sent out a large number of them considering the election is four weeks away.” Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said Thursday that more than 100,000 Minnesota voters have requested absentee ballots. Of those, 41,208 have already been returned by the voter and accepted. The number of absentee ballot requests in Beltrami County wasn’t immediately available, but Mack said her office has received more compared to the last presidential election. In 2008, there were 1,888 absentee ballots cast. That’s slightly more than 8 percent of the 23,313 total ballots cast in the election. Beltrami County could easily top the 2008 numbers. “The big push comes the last week or two,” Mack said.
One reason for Beltrami County’s large percentage of absentee votes is deer hunting season, which opens Nov. 3 this year. The election is Nov. 6, and many hunters will be out of their precincts and unable to cast a ballot. “Voters still have time left before the Nov. 6 general election to vote by absentee ballot,” Ritchie said. “I urge voters who will be out of their precincts on Election Day and who wish to cast a ballot to fill out their absentee ballot applications and send them in today, or visit their county auditor’s office to cast their absentee ballots in-person.” According to Ritchie, an eligible Minnesota voter may cast an absentee ballot for one of the following reasons: absence from the precinct, observance of religious discipline or holiday, illness or disability, serving as an election judge in another precinct, or when an emergency is declared by the governor or a quarantine is declared by the federal or state government.