How do absentee ballots work? - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

How do absentee ballots work?

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There's a lot of buzz about absentee voting this year now that phone calls and e-mails are urging voters to cast their ballots early. So, how does the process work? FOX 9's Jody Ambroz explains.

The Secretary of State's office admits that there are a lot of myths about absentee voting. In fact, that's why they have a section of their website devoted to answering questions about it.

Yet, for Wendy Sullivan, voting absentee wasn't a confusing chore at all.

"I was pleasantly surprised to find out I could vote early," she told FOX 9 News.

Sullivan will be out of town on Election Day, so she cast her absentee ballot in person at the Hennepin County Elections Office.

But what happens to the ballot afterward? Election officials first verify the absentee forms to make sure they're complete, with names and signatures. When voting in person, those forms are reviewed on the spot. For those who vote by mail, it can take three to five days -- and if there's a mistake, it can't be accepted.

If an absentee ballot is rejected before Election Day, voters will be notified by mail, e-mail or by phone. Voters can check the status of their ballot using

Once the ballot is completed, election officials begin opening and scanning them four days prior to Election Day because officials say they need a head start feeding the ballots into the electronic voting machines to make sure they're all entered in time.

Absentee, military and overseas ballots are all tabulated on Nov. 6, and the results are included on the Secretary of State's website.

In the state of Minnesota, voters do need a valid reason to vote absentee. Those reasons include:

  • Being ill or disabled
  • Being away from the precinct
  • For religious reasons

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