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State gets $226,255 grant to make voting easier

Minnesota will receive a $226,255 Electronic Absentee Systems for Elections grant from the Federal Voting Assistance Program at the Department of Defense.

"This is wonderful news for those in uniform who defend our right to vote," said Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, "because this federal grant will help develop online tools to remove barriers to absentee voting by advancing the electronic options for military and overseas citizens."

The Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State will use the Federal Voting Assistance Program grant to further support military and overseas voters by enhancing features of the office website. The proposed website improvements include video tutorials about how to use the tools on the site, a new tool to allow voters to view the candidates and questions that will appear on their ballot, and a customized tool for the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot that will provide voters the names of the candidates they have to choose from in federal, state and local races.

"Over the past several years, Minnesota has greatly reduced the ballot transmission failure rate for military and overseas voters and was recognized for having one of the highest military and overseas voter satisfaction rates in the country in 2008," said Secretary Ritchie. "This office worked closely with the Pentagon, local government officials, and legislators and governors from both sides of the aisle to increase the absentee ballot acceptance rate by passing important legislation and improving information sharing with Minnesota voters."

Improvements made to the absentee ballot process to date include:

• Moving the primary election date a month earlier allowing absentee voters to ensure sufficient time for ballot return;

• Creating an easy-to-use website to help military and overseas voters


• Passing legislation to allow local election officials to immediately review returned military and overseas absentee ballots for errors so a

replacement ballot can be sent;

• Launching an online absentee ballot lookup service that allows voters to check:

- whether or not their ballot application was received

- when their absentee ballot was sent to them

- when their absentee ballot was received by their local election officials

- if the ballot was counted or rejected, the reason for the rejection

- the date that a replacement absentee ballot was sent to the voter;

• Providing an online voter registration status check.

Additional information about absentee voting, voter registration and other election information is available at .