Most years, Minnesotans expect election results on election night. But we all know this year isn’t like most years. The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we live, work, and vote.
However, the pandemic hasn’t changed this: One of our most important rights as Americans is the right to vote. And election officials have a duty to ensure that every eligible vote is counted.
We have to count and verify every ballot cast — from people with preexisting conditions voting absentee because of the coronavirus, to military members who vote from overseas, to people who vote on Election Day. Because we’re all better off when more eligible voters can cast their vote and have it counted. It is how we bring integrity to our election results and swear in a government elected by and for the people.
This year, it’s going to take longer to count the votes and verify an election winner — and that’s OK.
Due to coronavirus and health concerns, more than 1 million Minnesotans have voted early, already a record. Absentee ballots take longer to count because of security measures to verify each ballot’s accuracy. I’ve been an election judge, and we go through every ballot by hand to ensure that voters’ information is accurate. Election judges make sure the Minnesota driver’s license or ID number or Social Security number on the ballot matches exactly the original absentee application. The judges also assure every envelope is signed and has the correct information. After the ballots are accepted or rejected, they’re scanned into the state’s system, with each voter getting their own barcode. This is when you can go to the online ballot tracker on the Minnesota secretary of state’s website, which will tell you when your ballot has been received and counted. And just like many workplaces, election officials are being careful to stay socially distanced and sometimes work with reduced staff or fewer resources.
Minnesota has one of the country’s safest and most secure elections systems and famously leads the nation in voter turnout. We should be proud of our high voter turnout and safe, secure election system. This year, we also need to be patient so election officials can take the time they need to make sure every eligible vote is counted accurately.
When election officials take the time to count and verify every ballot, that’s a sign that our democracy is working.
David Brauer is a Minneapolis resident who has worked as an election judge.
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