Minnesota's voters are rightfully proud of our election system. In a partnership between the Secretary of State's office and county, city, and township governments, we hold elections that are free, fair, secure, and accurate.
Use the information below to learn more about how elections happen in Minnesota.
Elections are not just a single day. All year long, Minnesotans are hard at work planning and preparing for upcoming elections or verifying and reviewing previous elections. More and more, elections are becoming a common topic online, on tv, on the radio and with friends and family. With so much talk about election administration, it can be hard to figure out what’s real – and what’s not. Below, we’re offering details on some of the most common claims that we hear about elections administration in Minnesota.
This will not cover everything you might see online or hear from a friend. In those cases, we encourage you to think a bit more about what you’re hearing about elections administration. Consider: Who is telling you the information? Do they have expertise or first-hand experience? Are there more details needed that might make the information make sense? If you’re seeing something online, check the date to make sure you’re getting the latest information and make sure you’re not missing the joke. Many satire websites can look nearly identical to news websites.
If you have questions or concerns, you can reach out to our office at firstname.lastname@example.org or your local election office. Remember, elections are conducted at a local level by your neighbors, friends, and family.
FACT: The Department of Public Safety will screen for citizenship and voting eligibility before sending voter registration information to the Office of the Secretary of State with the new Automatic Voter Registration law.
As soon as early 2024, Minnesota will switch to automatic voter registration. With this change Minnesotans will be registered to vote, or their voter registration will be updated, without having to proactively check a box when applying for or renewing a driver’s license or state ID.
The Department of Public Safety will review citizenship affirming documentation and ensure the potential voter meets all other eligibility requirements to register in Minnesota before sending their information to the Office of the Secretary of State. Examples of citizenship affirming documentation include birth certificates, passports, and certificates of naturalization.
Minnesotans automatically registered will be able to opt-out of registering to vote within 20 days of their registration being processed. A mailing will be sent to each prospective voter indicating how they can opt out.
FICTION: Noncitizens will be registered to vote under the new Automatic Voter Registration law.
New voter registrations will only be created once a person has proved their citizenship and eligibility to the State of Minnesota.
FACT: Every ballot cast in Minnesota is associated with a registered, eligible voter.
When someone registers to vote in Minnesota, they must prove that they are who they say they are and that they live where they say they live. There are many ways provided in state law to be able to show that proof. All voter registrations are verified with records from the Department of Public Safety (driver's licenses and state IDs), the Social Security Administration, and other data.
Before any ballot goes to a voter -- whether by mail or in person -- they must swear an oath that they are eligible to vote and acknowledge that it is a felony to falsify information on their absentee ballot application or registration.
FICTION: There are discrepancies and mismatches between ballots cast and registered voters.
One of the most common forms of disinformation claims to use voter data to show that somehow the numbers of ballots and voters don't add up. These claims are based on the misuse of data. They are entirely false.
FACT: Electronic voting equipment is the accurate, timely way to determine election results.
Electronic tabulators -- the machines where voters place their ballots in the polling place – have been in use in Minnesota for decades. During this time, they have been proven to be more accurate and efficient than any other method of tabulating election results.
Voters have confidence that the machines are tabulating correctly because they are tested for accurate performance, both before and after each election. The process and results of the testing are open to the public.
FICTION: Hand-counting ballots is a viable way to conduct an election.
Hand counting has been proven to be far less accurate as there is more opportunity for human error. Additionally, hand counting would delay election results for weeks or months, since each race on each ballot needs to be counted separately.
FACT: Eligible voters may receive an absentee ballot application without requesting one.
Many organizations send potential voters absentee ballot applications during voting season. Minnesotans can only receive an absentee ballot once they complete and return the application to their local election office and their eligibility is confirmed. Eligible voters can only receive one absentee ballot. In the rare case a duplicate ballot needs to be issued, the original ballot will not be counted.
FICTION: Voters received multiple ballots without requesting them.
There have been accounts of Minnesotans mistaking ballot applications for actual ballots. Ballots are only ever issued to eligible, registered voters who have requested them, and voters who live in mail-only areas.
FACT: Ballot-counting machines are tested, verified for accuracy, and certified before every election.
Elections equipment, as a key component of the voting system, is carefully inspected during private and public testing before any election takes place. This testing is required under law and is open to the public for observation.
FICTION: Voting machines were faulty, hacked, or compromised.
There is no evidence showing that any voting machines were faulty, hacked, or compromised in any way in 2020 or any other election. Numerous conspiracy theories regarding voting machines have been spread, all without any evidence to back them up. Post-election reviews have always shown accurate and reliable performance from the equipment used in Minnesota. All equipment used in elections is verified through federal and state certification processes.
FACT: Around 80% of eligible Minnesotans voted in the 2020 election.
In the 2020 election, 3,292,997 votes were cast, out of 4,118,462 eligible voters (79.96%).
FICTION: More people voted than are registered.
Voters can only receive a ballot once they complete the voter registration process. Other claims about the number of votes, registered or eligible voters are entirely false.
Transparency and Public Access
Minnesota elections are the envy of the nation! We are proud of our strong voter turnout, laws that ensure access to the ballot, robust security measures, and the transparency that's an essential part of maintaining trust in the system. All aspects of elections are governed by state and federal law, and many functions are open or available to the public. Here's how you can see for yourself how elections work:
Become an election judge
The best way to learn about the system is to see how it operates from the inside! It takes around 30,000 election workers to hold an election in Minnesota. County and city governments are always looking for qualified applicants. It's a great service to the community (and you get paid). Find out more and how to apply.
Public Accuracy Testing
Before every election, local election officials test all equipment to be used in that election. For the preliminary testing, ballots are marked with assistive voting devices, a set of pre-marked ballots is fed into the ballot tabulators, and the machine's totals are compared with the pre-determined results. Some equipment is also tested at a Public Accuracy Test shortly before the election. Public Accuracy Tests are open to the public—contact your local election official to find the time and location of their next scheduled test.
By state law, after every state general election, Minnesota counties perform a post-election review of election results. The review is a hand count of the ballots for each eligible election (U.S. President, U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative, and Governor) in the selected precincts compared with the results from the voting system used in those precincts. Find out more about post-election reviews here.
The results of an election are not official until they have been reviewed by a canvassing board. These groups meet at both a county and statewide level to confirm and certify the results of an election. These meetings are always open to the public. Find out more about canvassing boards here.
Some illustrations copyright ElectionTools.org, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
We encourage everyone to share our Minnesota Elections Facts graphics. Download the images below to use on social media. We appreciate your help sharing our message!