Voting will certainly look different in 2020 than any other election year, Scott County Elections Administrator Julie Hanson said.
Due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19 that may occur in crowded, enclosed spaces, voters are being encouraged to vote absentee, which can be done either via mail or in-person.
Hanson said 10,000 Scott County residents have requested an in-person absentee ballot this year, about 11% of eligible voters in the region. Of these, just over 4,000 have returned their ballots.
The first step in registering is to complete an application.
“The Secretary of State has an amazing online application that drops right into a queue for us to process,” Hanson said.
It saves time — and postage — when you apply online, but you can also fill out a paper application and submit it via email, mail, fax or drop box. Then, the application is processed and voters receive their election materials in the mailbox, which they then return via mail.
Voters who reside in Shakopee, Savage, Prior Lake or Jordan can vote at their City Hall.
If you have already registered to vote absentee, there are a few dates to keep in mind.
Hanson said absentee voting always starts 46 days before every election. For the 2020 primary elections, ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day (Aug. 11) and received by Aug. 13. For the general election, absentee voting will begin Sept. 18, which is the earliest day ballots can be mailed.
As far as in-person ballot drop-offs, Hanson said city clerks and judges will take every precaution to ensure the health and safety of all those involved. Stations, pens and other supplies will be sanitized between every voter. The state has also provided cleaning solution, hand sanitizer and masks for every polling place to ensure voter safety, Hanson said.
Following Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order that masks be worn in all indoor businesses in the state of Minnesota, Hanson said the county is urging voters to wear a mask if they have one. Some disposable masks will be available at polling places, but supplies are limited.
“We are asking voters to please be patient as we figure out this ever changing landscape,” said Hanson. “Judges are people too and are only enforcing the rules set by the state or following CDC protocols.”