Story published: September 15, 2020

A historic number of people is expected to vote by mail this November 2020, yet a top election official says that Minnesota might not look all that different. Joe Mansky worked for decades in state and local elections offices, and agrees that the amount of national attention Minnesota is seeing in the presidential race is unusual. “This probably is unprecedented in recent memory,” says Mansky. President Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden are headed to the state on the same day, followed by many surrogate visits.

“We have had mail voting, we were actually one of the first states to have mail voting, so that part is not new to us,” explains Mansky, who says Minnesota has had some form of mail-in voting for 33 years. However, Minnesotans are newer to “no-excuse absentee ballots,” an option that allows people to request a mail-in ballot for no cited reason and one that has proved popular.

The state legislature also passed a new law allowing elections officials to count ballots for two weeks prior to Election Day because of the pandemic. “The majority of ballots will be counted before we get to 8 pm on election night [when polls close],” Mansky says.

“We have a long track record of voting by mail,” he adds, so he’s skeptical that real doubt could be cast on the election results here. He also said people don’t have to return their mail-in ballots by mail: You can drop them off. “That might be the best opportunity when they get their ballot. They can just return it in person.”

Mansky concludes that Minnesota might be more like the past on November 3 than we expect. “I’ve been voting by mail for 22 years,” and he says that should give people confidence in the system.

________________________________________________________________________

Mary Lahammer offers this roundup of the Republican National Convention, which was held both virtually and in-person, as well as the Democratic National Convention, which unfolded virtually.

Summer politics are often sleepy, but this year has been an exception. Mary Lahammer takes a look at the police reform bill passed by the legislature in July.

George Floyd’s police killing has brought together communities in a show of resilience – but it’s also revealed deep-seated racial inequities in access to healthy food now that the Lake Street area, where many grocery stores were damaged or destroyed, has become a food desert. Almanac reporter Kyeland Jackson examines how that lack of food access is actually rooted in racism-charged issues related to access to jobs and opportunities to build wealth.