ST. PAUL — Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said Nov. 3 will be "an election like no other," but assured voters that they should trust the state's voting systems in place.
Simon made the comments in a Tuesday, Oct. 13, briefing with the media about the state's plan for election night.
With the state still in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic, Simon said Minnesotans shouldn't see physical polling places as a "death trap," but that they should consider alternatives to voting in-person on Election Day. And with an unprecedented number of Minnesotans having already opted to vote by mail, Simon said residents should not be alarmed if precincts aren't reporting full results as early as they usually do on the night of Nov. 3.
"No one is saying that polling places are a death trap and you should run for your lives," Simon said. "Nobody is saying that. No one has ever said that. What we are saying is, use your head. Use caution. Think about ways you can mitigate risk, up to and including using alternate ways of voting."
Polls in Minnesota have been open since Sept. 18, allowing voters to cast their ballots early and in-person. Minnesotans can also vote by mail without needing an excuse to use a mail-in absentee ballot. The state has also waived its usual witness signature requirement for mail-in ballots due to the pandemic.
Already, Simon said Tuesday that 1.3 million in the state have voted by mail — an unprecedented number with the general Election Day still three weeks away.
Also due to the pandemic, the state is going to accept mailed ballots up to one week after Nov. 3, so long as they are postmarked on or before Election Day. Voters can also drop their ballots off in collection boxes if they prefer not to mail them.
With potentially millions voting by mail and precincts accepting ballots until Nov. 10, Simon on Tuesday's call braced Minnesotans not to be surprised when election results aren't considered final for days after the election, and vote totals will continue to adjust. There won't be the "instant gratification" that Americans have grown accustomed to with votes totaled on election night or early the next morning.
Simon stressed that delay is "literally by design," and not something that should make Minnesotans panic.
"This is the plan. This is not the result of someone’s laziness or screwup or falling down on the job or failing to plan ahead," he said. "When people see, when citizens see, on election night that we don't have 100% of the results in, it is literally by design."
He continued, "It’s not evidence that anyone is hiding or concealing or rigging or stealing. It’s evidence of the actual plan."