Registered voters in a select few precincts in Fillmore County may have recently received a special packet in the mail that allows them to vote in the primary and general election by mail instead of visiting a precinct.
According to Carrie Huffman with the Fillmore County Auditor/Treasurer’s Office, for the 2018 election there will be three cities and five townships offering the option to vote by mail out of a total of 37 precincts in Fillmore County, Minn.
In early July 2018, registered voters in Bloomfield Township, Canton Township, City of Fountain, Fountain Township, and Newburg Township, received mail ballot packets. These precincts were newly added to the mail ballot process.
As Huffman explained, “Back in 2016, former Fillmore County Auditor/Treasurer Shirl Boelter reached out to both Preble Township and the City of Whalan to see if they were interested in doing the ballot process” by mail.
In 2016, the City of Whalan received 11 ballots by mail out of the 42 registered voters for the primary election. And, for the general election, they received 41 ballots by mail from 48 registered voters. That’s a staggering 85% of votes cast by mail.
For Preble Township, in 2016, there were 21 ballots cast out of the 135 registered voters for the primary election. And, the general election garnered 98 mail-in ballots out of a total of 136 registered voters.
According to Carrie Huffman, there are some basic requirements for a precinct to qualify for the mail ballot process. “They have to be under 400 registered voters in the precinct. They have to pass a resolution 90 days before the election. When it’s their first election, they need to notify all the registered voters in the precinct.”
For precincts considering the mail ballot process, “The first election that the precincts go to mail balloting, they are required to notify all registered voters of this change,” shared Huffman. All mail ballot precincts have been provided with labels of each registered voter at clerks training, so letters could be mailed to registered voters. “The company that mailed out our ballots for us also sent out postcards to the registered voters letting them know that their ballots will be coming soon. We are trying to notify voters so that they are not confused on the process that is taking place. Some cities have put fliers in the utility bills and some have mailed notifications.” explained Huffman.
When asked about voter feedback received from the mail ballot process, Huffman said, “The only issue we have had is that we have gotten a few ballots back with no witness. Each ballot that a voter casts has to be witnessed in order for us to accept them. Some have nothing filled out and some just have a name and signature, but no address. Then, I send a letter to the voter letting them know that their ballot was rejected and I send them out a new ballot for them to vote again and to get the witness section completed to ensure that their vote counts.”
If you have any further questions regarding the mail ballot process, you can contact the Fillmore County Auditor/Treasurer’s Office at (507) 765-2665.