With less than a week to go before Election Day, municipalities are working to ensure that the voting process runs smoothly. Brian Anderson, Goodhue County’s director of finance & taxpayer services, heads up voting in the county. He answered a few questions about the election and what residents should know when voting during this year made unique by the pandemic.

When do you expect to have election results this year? Why?

We expect to have most of the election results on election night as usual.

What is different about this election compared to previous elections?

We are given seven days after the election to continue to count mail-in ballots, which is a law change due to COVID.

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How many absentee ballots have you sent out? How many have been returned?

As of Tuesday, Oct. 27, we have sent out 10,724 and received back 8,567.

What is the process like for counting absentee ballots in Goodhue County? Walk through the process -- from when they first come into counting. What happens to absentee ballots before counting, where do they go?

When absentee ballots come in by mail, certified election staff work in groups of two (known as ballot board) to check if the security envelope has been signed. If not, the envelope isn’t opened and the voter is contacted. If it has been signed, the envelope is opened and sent through the tabular where it will be counted on election night along with the other ballots in that precinct.

Tuesday, Oct. 27, was the start of direct ballot voting, where voters can come in, fill out an application, get a ballot and vote, and then send it through the tabulator themselves. Before today, it was absentee voting where the voter would come in and place their ballot in a secure envelope and then we would process it as previously mentioned.

Processing of absentee ballots received Nov. 4 to 10:

  • Ballots will be stamped with the date received in our office and postmarks will be checked for postmark date. Ballots will be processed consistent with state law, recent court action, and guidance provided by the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office.

  • Ballots meeting criteria will be reviewed against the rosters to determine if the voter voted in person at the polling place. If there is an in person vote noted, the ballot will be rejected.

  • If the voter has not voted, the ballot will be reviewed by the absentee ballot board to determine if the ballot is accepted or rejected.

  • Accepted ballots will then be processed through the tabulator and the results will be updated with any ballots processed that day.

  • Results will be updated by close of business each day to reflect any ballots that were processed that day. No ballots will be processed or updated on Saturday or Sunday.

  • Processed absentee ballots will be sealed in transfer cases and secured with the other voted absentee and election day ballots.

  • All results remain unofficial until the county canvas board meets at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 13. All materials and ballots will remain secured until the full election contest period is complete.

What should voters understand about this election?

That the election process, no matter how one chooses to vote in Minnesota, is a very secure process. Also, voters can actually track their ballot through the Secretary of State website.