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 the envy of the nation.
Our #1-in-the-country voter turnout shows us clearly that we have confidence in the process and the results.
On this page you'll find resources to help explain WHY we know our elections are fair, accurate, and secure.
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 DVS (driver's licenses), 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 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 entirely false. They're all based on misuse of data and are intended to destroy faith in our election system.
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 -- are proven to be far 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 Election Day, and the process and results of which are available 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, while introducing significant opportunity for human error. Hand counting would also mean weeks or months before election results are known, as each race on each ballot needs to be counted separately, for the millions of ballots cast statewide. Proposals to hand-count Minnesota's election are not legitimate policy ideas, but are intended to impede local officials' ability to conduct reliable elections.
FACT: I got an application for an absentee ballot in the mail.
As part of encouraging Minnesotans to vote from home during a pandemic, the Secretary of State's office - as well as many other voter outreach and political organizations - sent absentee ballot applications to voters. These applications were in most cases identical to the official state application and served the same purpose.
FICTION: Voters received multiple ballots without requesting them.
There have been many 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 scrutinized in 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: Minnesota cooperates with other states to make sure our voter rolls are clean and up-to-date
Minnesota is part of a network of states called the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), which is a member-run organization that shares public information about voters to make sure people aren't registered in more than one state or are removed from the rolls when they move. Minnesota's participation is authorized by the legislature, and ERIC's leadership is made up of elections officials from the member states. ERIC’s current membership of 32 is divided almost evenly between states led by a Republican and states led by a Democrat, excluding states where the position is nonpartisan. Funding comes exclusively from annual membership dues paid by the states.
FICTION: ERIC is a partisan organization, funded by wealthy donors, working to change election results
ERIC is a non-partisan organization that assists states in partnering to ensure the most up-to-date and accurate voter rolls. ERIC’s current membership of 32 is divided almost evenly between states led by a Republican and states led by a Democrat, excluding states where the position is nonpartisan. Funding comes exclusively from annual membership dues paid by the states.
FACT: Around 80% of eligible Minnesotans voted in the 2020 election.
Minnesota leads the nation in voter turnout. 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.
The Statewide Voter Registration System is the database, established by state law and administered by the Secretary of State's Office, that lists Minnesota's registered voters. It is maintained through a continuous and rigorous maintenance data-matching process.
First, every voter who fills out a voter registration application swears under oath that they are eligible to vote. A voter's signature on this application acknowledges that it is a felony to falsify information on their registration.
Second, Minnesota uses a centralized database, the Statewide Voter Registration System, to ensure that each voter is accurately registered in the system. When entering voter registration applications, county auditors first look to see if the person already is registered. If so, then they update that person’s registration; if not, then they create a registration for the person in the system.
Third, voter registration information is verified against Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS), Social Security Administration (SSA), Department of Health, and court records. When voters register to vote or update their registration, they are required to provide a Minnesota driver’s license or state ID number or the last four digits of their Social Security Number, if they have one. This data is verified against the Driver and Vehicle Services or Social Security Administration database. If it cannot be verified, the voter’s record is flagged. For online registrants, data is verified with Driver and Vehicle Services or the Social Security Administration before data is sent to the county for processing.
Fourth, voter addresses are verified. After voter registrations have been entered, each voter is sent a non-forwardable postcard, called a Postal Verification Card, to verify that they live at the address provided. If the postcard is returned as non-deliverable, the voter’s record is challenged, requiring the voter to answer questions under oath about where they live before being allowed to vote.
The Statewide Voter Registration Database goes through a continuous and rigorous maintenance data-matching process in partnership with a wide array of offices and agencies at the county, state, and federal levels. The following points of data are always integrated into this process:
Inactive voters: Each year, voters who have not voted or updated their registration in four years are removed.
Deaths: Deceased voters are removed upon notification from the Minnesota Department of Health or Social Security Administration.
Felons: The records of those convicted of felonies are challenged based upon notice from the Court System or Department of Corrections, requiring that they answer questions under oath before being allowed to vote. If an individual attempts to register or to vote when ineligible, their case is referred to a county attorney.
Revoked Voting Rights: The court system provides notice when a court has specifically revoked the voting rights of an individual under guardianship. The records of any who are registered to vote are challenged, requiring that they answer questions under oath before being allowed to vote.
Non-citizens: Driver and Vehicle Services provides a list of noncitizens here on temporary visas. The records of any who are registered to vote are challenged, requiring that they answer questions under oath before being allowed to vote, and their case is referred to a county attorney.
Moves: The records of voters who have moved are updated based upon National Change of Address data provided by the Postal Service, Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Service data, or information shared between state governments.
From election judges in the polling place to the work that counties do after the polls close on Election Night, every step of the process is governed by laws and practices that ensure only eligible voters are voting and that every eligible vote is counted accurately.
On Election Day, election judges manage polling places. All sensitive tasks in the polling place, such as assisting a voter or counting the ballots, must be conducted by two election judges of different major political parties.
On Election Day, every voter swears that they are eligible. When voters arrive, election judges ask voters for their name and address, and, if there are any questions, their date of birth. Voters then read the oath at the top of the page and sign the roster next to their name, swearing that they are eligible to vote and acknowledging that giving false information is a felony.
On Election Night, in each polling place, election judges verify that the number of ballots cast matches the number of voters before they leave for the night. They do this by matching the number of ballots to either the number of signatures on the roster or the number of voter receipts. (Each voter who signs the roster is handed a voter receipt, which they must provide to another election judge to receive a ballot.)
On Election Day, absentee voters are prevented from voting more than once. Election officials may not open and count any absentee votes that arrive on Election Day until they have ensured that the individual did not already vote in the polling place. Absentee ballots for state primaries and general elections are required to be tracked in the Statewide Voter Registration System, which will indicate if someone has already voted absentee.
The work of elections security continues after Election Day, as well. Local officials check again to make sure voter information is updated and any discrepancies are resolved.
Voters’ records are marked to indicate that they voted. Counties mark voters’ records in the Statewide Voter Registration System to reflect that they voted in an election (called “voter history”) so that anyone who has not voted in the previous four years can be removed from the list.
The Statewide Voter Registration System checks for anyone who voted more than once. When counties are entering voting history data and election day registrations into the Statewide Voter Registration System, it provides a warning if a voter is already recorded as having voted in the election. Usually, this is a result of a data-entry error; any actual incidents are turned over to the county attorney for further investigation and possible prosecution.
Voters who register to vote on Election Day are entered into the Statewide Voter Registration System and are subject to the same verification procedures mentioned above. If the non-forwardable Postal Verification Card is returned, county auditors must verify the voter’s eligibility. If the auditor cannot do so or if the voter is otherwise identified as ineligible to vote, their case must be forwarded to the county attorney for further investigation and potential prosecution.
Lastly, database matches are run again. Data on non-citizens from the Department of Public Safety and data on felons from the Department of Corrections are again compared to data in the Statewide Voter Registration System to identify non-citizens or felons who may have voted. If an individual registered or voted when they were not eligible, their record is flagged and their case is turned over to the county attorney for further investigation and potential prosecution.
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.
Every ten years, the state of Minnesota goes through a process called redistricting. The process is a re-drawing of the boundary lines which divide up the state into areas represented by our elected officials, like US Congresspeople or state lawmakers. These divisions, called districts, are adjusted based on the US Census and other surveys, to make sure that they have equal populations and representation in our government.
At the federal level, the apportionment process in the U.S. Constitution outlined a process to make sure each state has Representatives in the House of Representatives roughly proportional to its population. Laws passed since have modified the apportionment process as the number of states and number of representatives changed.
Within Minnesota, the state constitution and statutes identify what districts need to be redistricted and the processes for redistricting that happen. Within each state, district boundaries are drawn so that approximately the same number of persons are contained within each congressional district in the state to give all persons within the state equal representation. These offices include both chambers of the state legislature, county commissioner districts, and city wards, among others.
In Minnesota, new maps of these district lines were produced by a panel of five judges and released to the public on February 15, 2022.
The Secretary of State's office isn't involved in drawing the new maps, but the new maps do affect voters!
Depending on where you live, you may now be in a different district with a different polling place than you were in past elections. Ahead of Election Day, make sure to check where you vote with the Secretary of State's pollfinder tool.
See more information at the Legislative Coordinating Commission's GIS office: https://www.gis.lcc.mn.gov/html/redistricting.html
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