More and more, Rice County residents are opting out of waiting in line on Election Day.

Last election, 6,129 voters submitted absentee ballots instead of heading to the polls on Election Day 2016. In 2012, the previous presidential election, that number was only 2,496, marking a 146 percent increase.

For non-presidential elections, like this year, there was a 67 percent increase in absentee voters between the 2010 and 2014 elections.

According to Annette Peters, Rice County Property Tax and Elections director, that uptick is due to people no longer needing an excuse to vote by absentee ballot.

“Anyone who is an eligible voter can vote by absentee ballot if they prefer,” she said.

By going to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website (sos.state.mn.us), calling the Rice County Property Tax and Elections Department, or stopping by the Rice County Government Services Center in Faribault or Northfield City Hall, any eligible voter can receive an absentee ballot.

Absentee voting for the primary elections in Minnesota begins Friday and runs through the Aug. 14 primary.

In the seven days leading up to the election, anyone who votes early in person will do what Peters called, “direct balloting” by putting their ballot right into the county’s new voting equipment instead of sealing their votes in an envelope.

While no Rice County races have primaries, a number of state and national races — Minnesota governor and attorney general, and both Minnesota U.S Senate — do.

To see who’s on your primary ballot, visit mnvotes.sos.state.mn.us or find the link at co.rice.mn.us.

Peters also reminded voters that they need to make sure to vote for one party in the primary.

How to vote absentee

Ballots are now available for eligible voters wishing to vote absentee for the primary to be held on Aug. 14. Voters in Rice County may vote by absentee ballot by mail or in person.

You may receive an absentee ballot by completing an absentee ballot application:

Phone: 507-332-6104 (Faribault), 507-645-9576 (Northfield) or 507-744-5185 (Lonsdale)

Mail: Rice County Property Tax & Elections Department, 320 Third St. NW, Faribault 55021

In-Person: Rice County Property Tax & Elections Department, 320 Third St. NW, Faribault (Hours: Monday – Friday; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) or Northfield City Hall, 801 Washington St., Northfield (Hours: Monday – Friday; 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.)

Ballots will also be available at both the Faribault and Northfield locations on Saturday, Aug. 11 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Monday, Aug. 13 until 5 p.m.

Reach Reporter Gunnar Olson at 507-333-3128 or follow him on Twitter @fdnGunnar.

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