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Voters Receiving Unsolicited Absentee Ballot Applications

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- In just a little over a month, many Minnesotans will head to the polls. Absentee voting by mail and in person in Minnesota began a week ago last Friday.

But some voters are getting applications in the mail for absentee ballots they never asked for. The applications contain personal information, including their names, addresses, and record of how frequently they have voted.

One mailer came from a group called the Center for Voter information, with a paid self-addressed envelope that goes directly back to the Hennepin County Elections Office.

And while it may look like it came from Hennepin County, it did not.

"Hennepin County never sends unsolicited mailings out to people. If you get an absentee ballot application from us it's because you requested one from us," Hennepin County Elections Manager Ginny Gelms said.

The reason Minnesota voters might get a document like this is pretty basic. Under state law, your voter information -- including your name, your address and how often you vote -- is public information that can actually be purchased from the state of Minnesota.

Gelms says this particular letter is not a scam and that if the county received this application an absentee ballot would be mailed out.

"We will get it, we will process it, we will send you your ballot," Gelms said.

According to a group that tracks nonprofits, the Center for Voter Information is a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan, nonprofit organization. It says it sends these out to make it convenient for voters.

A spokesperson told us state election officials are shown these forms months before they're sent out and are given time to comment on any changes they'd like to see made. The center also says the absentee ballot applications are the official ones you would get from the state, only they're sent by a civic engagement group.

If you have questions about an election mailing, you can contact the Secretary of State's office.

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