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568,196 Minnesotans already voted

ST. PAUL—Election day may be Tuesday, but 568,196 Minnesotans already have voted.

That is the word this morning from the secretary of state's office and represents the most early voters ever. This is the first presidential election in which a state no-excuse, early-voting law is in effect.

The figure represents the absentee vote count plus mail-in ballots used in some rural predicts.

In the 2014 off-year election, the first time Minnesotans did not have to say why they wanted an absentee ballot, 147,944 ballots had been received by the same time. In 2012, the latest presidential election year, 183,495 had voted.

Two years ago, nearly 2 million Minnesotans voted, compared to almost 3 million in recent presidential elections, which tend to draw more voters. In presidential years, Minnesota usually has led the nation in turnout during the 2000s, with 70 percent to nearly 80 percent of eligible voters casting ballots.

Less than 24 hours before polls open, candidates and parties continued to plead for money.

In an email, for instance, here is Chairman Ken Martin of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party: "Can you donate right now to make sure we have enough vans to reach every DFLer in Minnesota to the polls tomorrow? If we fall short, we could be handing the election to Donald Trump and condoning the hateful rhetoric he's spewed for over a year. Your donation makes a real difference—so please give now. We're running out of time, but I know we can do this."

On Sunday, Trump rallied thousands at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, saying he has a chance to be the first Republican in four decades to win Minnesota. Polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton leading the state, with a bigger margin than she has in many key swing states.

While the Clinton-Trump race has received the most attention, Minnesotans also will decide all eight U.S. House members and 200 legislators (one seat will be decided in a February special election), as well as judicial and local officials.

Polls generally are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on election day, although some rural townships open polls at 10 a.m. and others mail in their ballots.

State law requires employers to give eligible voters time off to cast ballots, without losing pay.

While pre-election voter registration has ended, Minnesotans may register on election day.

Polling place locations and other election information is available at mnvotes.org.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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