MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — All over your social media pages you’re likely seeing picture after picture of your friends showing off their “I Voted” stickers or mail-in ballots. It’s happening even though we’re still one week away from election day.
So, who is voting early? Good Question.
The line at the Ramsey County Early Voting Center on Plato Boulevard hardly let up on Monday. Voters waited in a socially distanced line for 20 to 30 minutes before casting their votes.
For some, it felt safer than Election Day. Others said they were worried about “more shenanigans” and didn’t trust the mail.
One voter remarked, “I figure, why not get it out of the way, that way I can sit back on the third and see what happens.”
Almost 1.2 million ballots have been accepted in the state, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office. That’s one-third of all registered voters in Minnesota. Put another way, it’s 40% of all Minnesotans who voted in 2016.
“We can’t say anything on the basis of early turnout about how the final result will turn out,” said Chris Federico, a professor of political science at the University of Minnesota.
Federico said it’s not clear if these early voters would have voted on Election day if not for the pandemic. He points out there are several reasons for why people are voting early this year – safety, enthusiasm or fear their vote will be suppressed.
“The big question is how many people are voting that are infrequent voters and there’s some evidence there are more infrequent voters voting now early, which would make a difference,” said Andy Aoki, a professor of political science at Augsburg University. “In close elections, small differences can tip the outcome.”
Exactly who is voting early in Minnesota is harder to determine. Minnesota does not require voters to register by party, so accepted absentee ballot data by party affiliation isn’t available.
Data from other states who do require party affiliation have shown more Democrats than Republicans voting early.
“I suspect when we get to Election night, we may see that Joe Biden has a lead on ballots that have been cast already and then it’s a question of how many of the president’s supporters will turn up on Election Day to try to put him over the top,” Anthony Salvanto, CBS News’ Director of Elections and Surveys, said on Face the Nation last week.
In Minnesota, who has already voted varies widely by county. In Cook and Marshall counties, where most voting has always been done by mail, it’s 60% and 53%, respectively, of all registered voters.
In Benton, Clearwater, Cottonwood, Lincoln, Mille Lacs, Redwood, Renville and Todd counties, it’s less than 20%.
To check the status of your absentee ballot, go to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website.
Source: CBS Minnesota