With the implementation of new absentee voting changes in Minnesota starting with the August 12th primary election, Winona County is expecting just one major change...a bigger voter turnout.
Voters can start casting absentee ballots on June 27th and this time will not need any legally recognized excuse.
County Deputy Auditor Cherie Kuckel said little else will change. The absentee ballots will be held until election night when they will be totaled up and added automatically to the individual precinct results through the county's computer system and then released to the public.
Kuckel said her office can begin to open those ballots seven days prior to the election but cannot total them up until election night.
The Secretary of State's Office says absentee ballots have ranged up to 12-percent of the total votes cast during the last four elections but this time could go as high as 20-percent.
The state says, for the first time, political parties will be able to receive, before the election, information about which voters have submitted absentee ballots because counties will not be able to hold those details back until after the election.
There is an online voting tool that allows people to request an absentee ballot and track its status. That site is mnvotes.org.
Absentee ballots are also available at the Winona County Government center in person and ballots can be cast there as well.
If you have questions call the Auditor-Treasurer's office at 457-8830.