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New tool is available for absentee voters

Voters can begin voting using absentee ballots for the 2010 general election.

Those voting absentee are encouraged to check the status of their absentee ballots with a new feature on the Secretary of State's website.

This service will streamline election administration resulting in cost savings to local governments and ensuring Minnesota is in full compliance with the recent federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act.

"We anticipate that more than 150,000 Minnesotans will vote by absentee ballot this election year," said Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. "This new service will give voters - especially our military personnel serving overseas - an easy and convenient way to check the status of their absentee ballots."

The online service informs absentee voters about the current status of their ballots such as it has been received, sent to you on a certain date or rejected.

In addition, the service will provide helpful links to additional voter resources such as county auditor contacts and a listing of candidates appearing on voters' ballots. In cases where a replacement ballot is not sent, voters will be presented with options to consider if they want to vote in the election.

To use the service, voters must provide the following information:

n First and last name.

n Full date of birth.

n The same identification number the voter used on the absentee ballot application.

Those voting absentee are encouraged to visit to use the Absentee Ballot Lookup periodically to stay up-to-date about the status of their ballots. For convenience, the office is also posting a link to the service on its military and overseas voter web tool.

Voters may only vote absentee for one of the following reasons:

n Absence from the precinct.

n Observance of religious discipline or holiday.

n Illness or disability.

n Serving as an election judge in another precinct.

n Emergency or quarantine declared by governor, federal or state government.

Voters may visit the county auditor's office at the Hubbard County Courthouse to vote absentee.