Election rumors and misconceptions

The rumor made the rounds a few weeks ago: Minnesota doesnt count absentee ballots unless the outcome of a race is so close that theres a recount.

Its never been true, said Secretary of State Steve Simon, who said that similar falsehoods have surfaced in previous election years but seemed more widespread this year. He called it an urban myth and said it hasnt been traced to any malicious individual or group.

The baseless buzz was an example of the misconceptions and falsehoods that can surface before Election Day. Sometimes theyre misunderstandings, but they can be intended to dissuade people from voting.

Such voter suppression can take other forms: Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a Republican running for governor, has been sued by civil rights groups for putting more than 50,000 absentee voter applications most of them for black people on hold until his office can verify them.

Because Minnesota allows same-day voter registration, tactics like those would not be effective here, Simon said.

Laws requiring voters to show specific forms of identification also are considered a form of voter suppression. Minnesota voters rejected a voter ID constitutional amendment in 2012.

Voters also have raised questions about receiving in the mail official-looking request forms for absentee ballots that were partly populated with their name, address and voting history.

That information is public, so theyre legal even if theyre from political parties or interest groups unless they include part of the recipients Social Security number.

Another common question: Why arent any polling places open in my neighborhood?

All townships and cities outside the seven-county metro area that have fewer than 400 registered voters can choose to hold elections by mail only.

To find out if your area is included and where to drop off a ballot, check the secretary of states website at pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us.