Waseca County had a record number of absentee ballots for the 2020 election.
In Minnesota, absentee ballots were accepted for a week after the election due to COVID-19. Typically, absentee ballots must be in on election night, but for the 2020 election, the ballots only needed to be postmarked by Election Day.
Absentee ballots in Waseca County totaled 4,104, with only six absentee ballots arriving at the courthouse after Election Day in Waseca County. The thousands of absentee ballots this year is a significant jump from the typical 500 the county received during past elections, according to County Auditor/Treasure Tammy Spooner. One other exception was for the 2016 presidential election, when there were 1,143 absentee ballots.
“It was a little more crazy than it was and we thought it was crazy back then until we got it this time so it put a lot on our office,” Waseca County Chief Deputy Auditor/Treasurer Robin Nelson said. “It actually went pretty smooth and we had a pretty good system down.”
Absentee ballots are sent out 46 days prior to Election Day with the additional 10 days post-election to return the ballots. With the extra time, the county staff had time to process the ballots as each one arrived, but there was still a lot for the staff to accomplish with the record numbers that arrived.
“The additional 10 days was not a lot of extra work for us, but it was just extra steps but being six ballots, it wasn’t a big deal,” Spooner said. “We had an enormous amount of absentee ballots and my staff was so wonderful and handled it so well. They did a great job.”