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580K Minnesotans Have Already Voted In Midterms

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A record number of Minnesota voters are casting their ballots early.

Secretary of State Steve Simon says early voting is up 142 percent from the last midterm election four years ago

If you add the number of people who have received a ballot in the mail, voted early, or requested an absentee ballot, it totals more than 580,000 Minnesotans.

Experts say more people are voting early because they have gotten used to the law that was passed in 2014. But most experts are predicting the final turnout will definitely be more than the 50 percent we saw in the last midterm election in 2014.

We went to Washington County, where we saw a steady stream of early voters in Woodbury and Stillwater. But it is like this across the state, and one of the biggest surges is in Hennepin County.

"We have seen an incredible increase in the number of people voting absentee for this election compared to four years ago," said Hennepin County Elections Manager Ginny Gelms. "So over a 300-percent increase in terms of the number of absentee ballots at this point in the election cycle."

Early Voting Ballot Counters
Hennepin County early voting ballot counters (credit: CBS)

Analysts say if that trend holds, it could be a good sign for Democrats -- especially embattled attorney general candidate Keith Ellison, whose current congressional district includes all of Hennepin County.

"Keith Ellison needs an enormous turnout from his old district, 5th District, to be able to win the election if the polls are accurate he is behind," said Hamline University Professor Dave Schultz.

In Hennepin County and across the state, workers have begun opening absentee ballots, and putting them into ballot machines, And while these ballots are technically being counted, the totals are not being added up for now.

"The law allows us to start this process of running the ballots through the ballot counters prior to Election Day," Gelms said. "But we are not allowed to actually run the result numbers until after the polls have closed on Election Night."

So, at 8 p.m. on Election Night -- the moment the polls close -- all of those totals from all of those absentee ballots will be tallied.

And you might be thinking that should mean earlier results, but the answer is not necessarily. Some counties choose not to release results piecemeal, but wait until they have most of the votes in to make them public.

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