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What to Do Once You've Received an Absentee Ballot and You're Unregistered

[Opening with the State of Minnesota seal in the background. ASL narrator Sarah Houge appears, with the following words visible on the screen, “What to do once You’ve Received an Absentee Ballot (Unregistered) Produced by the Commission of Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing Minnesotans. Sarah begins to sign, the CC begins and the voiceover begins.]

[Background: Desk with absentee balloting material envelope.] 

This video helps you figure out what to do with all of the materials you received in the mail along with your absentee ballot.  If you have already registered, this video is not for you.

[Words briefly appear: Watch the video “What to Do Once You’ve Received an Absentee Ballot (Registered)” if you’re registered.]

We have a different video when you’re registered. If you have not registered, watch this video.

[Background: Registration and absentee ballot materials are shown.]

Lay out all of the items that came in your packet.  There should be a ballot, the instruction sheet, a voter registration application and 3 envelopes. You’ll also need a pen, your ID number, proof of where you live (which might be your ID) and a person who can be your witness.

[Words briefly appear: You also need a pen, your ID number, proof of where you live and a witness.]

You need to find your witness before you fill out your ballot.  Don’t worry – the witness doesn’t get to see how you voted, but they play an important role in the process. 

[Words briefly appear: Witness must be registered to vote and can be a spouse, relative or notary.]

Your witness can be anyone who is registered to vote in Minnesota, including your spouse or a relative.  If both you and your spouse or roommate are voting by absentee ballot, you can serve as each other’s witnesses. 

Or it can be a notary public or a person with the authority to administer oaths (a legislator or a local election official, for example).

[Background: Desk]

[Background: Close up of the Minnesota Voter Registration Application]

Fill out the voter registration application, which is just one page.

It has three parts.

Part 1 is used to gather basic information.

The first two questions on the application address your eligibility to vote – whether you are a U.S. citizen and 18 years or older. If you answer “no” to either question, you aren’t eligible to vote in Minnesota and you don’t need to complete or return the form.

For the next questions, you will enter:

Your full name

Your address where you live (not a PO Box)

Your mailing address, if you can’t get mail delivered to your home

Date of birth

The shaded fields are required; the white fields are optional.  It also asks for, but you are not required to provide your school district, if you know it, the county where you live, your phone number, and your email address.  

Next, enter the number of your Minnesota driver’s license or Minnesota identification card if you have one and check the first box.

If you don’t have a Minnesota driver’s license or state identification, enter the last four digits of your social security number. DO NOT enter your entire social security number. Then check the second box.

If you don’t have any of these numbers, check the third box.

If you’re registering to vote for the first time, you can skip the Registration Updates section. 

However, if you have been registered to vote and are updating your information because you’ve changed your name or moved since the last time you voted, you should complete this part.

The third and final part certifies that you meet all of the state’s voting eligibility criteria. Be sure to read each statement carefully.  It says

[Words with the “I certify that I: items” briefly appear scrolling upwards]

I certify that I: 

will be at least 18 years old on Election Day;

am a citizen of the United States;

will have resided in Minnesota for 20 days immediately preceding Election Day;

maintain residence at the address given on the registration form;

am not under court-ordered guardianship in which the court order revokes my right to vote;

have not been found by a court to be legally incompetent to vote;

have the right to vote because, if I have been convicted of a felony, my felony sentence has expired (been completed) or I have been discharged from my sentence; and

have read and understand this statement, that giving false information is a felony punishable by not more than 5 years imprisonment or a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.

If every statement applies to you, sign your name next to the X and enter the date that you completed the form.

[Background: Desk]

Next, you’ll need to show your witness proof of where you live.  This may seem silly, especially if you live with your witness, but it is the law. 

There are a lot of different ways to prove where you live. Here’s the long list, choose what works for you.

[Visual of a Minnesota driver’s license]

The most common form used is a Minnesota driver's license or Minnesota state ID card with your current name and address.  You can also use a yellow receipt for a Minnesota driver’s license, Minnesota state ID card or learner’s permit if it has your current address on it.

[Visual of a utility bill from Xcel Energy and drivers license]

[Words briefly appear: Use a photo id and a bill]

If your photo ID doesn't include your current name and current address, you can show your witness both a photo ID and a bill that shows your current address.

There are lots of photo IDs and lots of types of bills that you can use.

[Words briefly appear: “Types of Photo IDs (with a bill)” Underneath the list of type of IDs is shown scrolling upwards.]

For photo IDs, you can choose from: 

Driver's license, state ID card or learner’s permit issued by any state

United States passport

United States Military ID or Veteran ID card

Tribal ID card with the name, signature and photo 

Minnesota university, college or technical college ID card

Minnesota high school ID card

[Background: Desk with xcel energy bill]

For bills, it can either be a paper bill, or if you receive it electronically, you can print it out or show it to your witness on your phone. It has to show your name and address and be due or dated within 30 days of the election.  Your choices are:

[Background: Desk]

[Words briefly appear: “Types of bills (with a photo id)” The types of bills are listed scrolling upwards below]

Phone (landline, cell, VOIP, etc.)

TV (cable, satellite, etc.)

Internet services

Solid waste or sewer services

Electric, gas or water

Banking or credit card

Rent or mortgage payments

Or a lease or rent statement that is valid through Election Day

Or a current student fee statement

[Background: Desk with voucher form]

Another option is to have another registered voter who knows you and lives in the same precinct (voting area) to vouch for you. This person will be required to confirm that you live in the precinct by signing an oath. Your witness can be the person who vouches for you.  The oath is on the back of the voter registration application. If your witness is vouching for you, be sure your witness fills out this form.

[Background. Desk with video of Shalom East Smaller campus (residential facility) in the center]

If you live in a residential facility like a nursing home or a battered women’s shelter, an employee of the facility can swear that you live there.

[Background: Desk with American Indian Tribal Member ID card]

If you are a member of an American Indian tribe, you can use your tribal ID, if it has your name, address, photo and signature.

[Background: Desk with Notice of Late Registration]

If you sent in a voter registration application but it arrived at the elections office after the deadline, you might have received a letter telling you that.  If you did, you can use this letter as your proof of where you live.

Wow!  There are a lot of ways that you are allowed to prove where you live.  Hopefully you know one that works for you and showed it to your witness. 

[Background: Desk with signature envelope. Registration form is shown sliding into the signature envelope.]

Now that you’ve finished your registration, you can put it in the smaller white envelope. 

[Background: Desk with ballot]

Show your witness the ballot you received in the mail so that they can see that it was blank when it arrived.  It’s proof that you are actually going to fill out the ballot yourself.  Once they see it’s blank, ask them for some privacy. 

Go ahead and fill out the ballot by marking the bubbles.  Follow the instructions on the ballot. Do not vote for more candidates than allowed. In most races you are allowed to vote for only one candidate.  In some cases you can vote for more than one.  Do not write anything extra on the ballot, especially do not write your name or your ID number. 

[Background: Desk with ballot envelope. Ballot is shown sliding into the ballot envelope.]

Once you are done voting, fold your ballot and put it into the tan ballot envelope.  Seal this envelope. 

[Background: Desk with signature envelope. Ballot envelope is shown sliding into the signature envelope.]

Then put the tan ballot envelope and your voter registration application into the white signature envelope.  Seal this envelope.  Then ask your witness to come back. Both of you will fill out the form on the outside of this envelope.

There should be a label on the envelope with your name and home address.  If there isn’t, then fill in this information.

Then write either your Minnesota driver’s license number or your Minnesota state ID card number or the last four digits of your Social Security number.  Use the same number that you wrote on the application when you applied for an absentee ballot.

If you do not have any of these numbers, check the box that says that you do not have any of these numbers.

Then there is an oath that you need to sign.  It says, “I certify that on Election Day I will meet all the legal requirements to vote.”  If this is true, sign your name.

Now give the envelope to your witness.  Your witness needs to write his or her name. In the next two boxes the witness needs to write his or her street address in Minnesota.  Make sure your witness writes in an address here, even if they live at the same address as you. Make sure your witness does not write in a PO Box.  PO Boxes are not allowed on this line. 

If your witness is a notary or someone who can administer an oath, your witness must write his or her title instead.  If your witness is a notary, he or she must stamp the envelope.

Your witness must then check the box to indicate which proof of where you live that you showed.

Then your witness has to read and sign an oath that says:

“I certify that:

the voter showed me the blank ballots before voting; 

the voter marked the ballots in private or, if physically unable to mark the ballots, the ballots were marked as directed by the voter; 

the voter enclosed and sealed the ballots in the ballot envelope; 

the voter registered to vote by filling out and enclosing a voter registration application in this envelope;


the voter provided proof of residence as indicated above; and

I am or have been registered to vote in Minnesota, or am a notary, or am authorized to give oaths.”

Have the witness sign his or her name.  Now you’re done filling out this form!

[Background: Desk with return envelope. Signature envelope is shown sliding into the return envelope.]

Put the white signature envelope into the larger white return envelope and seal the return envelope.  

You must return your ballot by the deadline so that it can be counted. You need to make sure it will arrive on or before Election Day. 

There are several options to choose from: 

[Words briefly appear on the screen: Mail the envelope so it arrives on or before Election Day.]

You can mail it or send it using a delivery service, such as UPS.

Or you can drop it off yourself or ask someone else to drop it off at your local elections office.  In this case it has to be dropped off by 3:00 p.m. on Election Day. 

[Words briefly appear on the screen: Drop it off at the local elections office by 3:00 PM]

If someone else drops it off for you, they can’t deliver more than 3 people’s ballots. 

[Background: Visual of the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State website]

After you’ve returned your ballot, you can check on its status online at the Minnesota Votes website to see if it’s been received, been processed, and been counted yet.  Watch another video to find out more about this.

[Words briefly appear on the screen: Watch the video “Check on your absentee ballot’s status]

For more information, go to the Minnesota Votes website. 

[MNCDHH logo is shown. Video ends.] 

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