ST. CLOUD -- We're still two weeks away before you can vote in the general election, but interest in voting early is already off the charts. Stearns County Auditor-Treasurer Randy Schreifels says absentee voting in Minnesota begins on Friday, September 18th and people are ready to cast their ballots.

So far we have over 12,000 absentee ballot requests, to put that into perspective, four years ago the total amount of absentee ballots that we processed and accepted was 12,875.  So, we're almost to that number and we haven't even started voting yet.

Schreifels says you can request an absentee ballot from his office, or by going to the Secretary of State's website

The county will have drop-off locations at their building in Waite Park and at the downtown St. Cloud offices, and you also have the option of mailing your ballot back.

Additionally, there are 32 precincts in Stearns County that have mail-in voting only this year, which means residents in those precincts will automatically have a ballot sent to them.

With the number of people expected to vote early this year in the general election, some have raised concerns about a higher risk of voter fraud. Schreifels says there is no reason to be worried.

We have electronic rosters and those are updated throughout the day at the polling place, so when they get that roster it will show who has already voted by absentee, so if you come in on election day and try to vote it will show you already voted by absentee and you won't be allowed to vote in person.

Schreifels says any mail-in ballots that they receive or after election day will be cross-checked with the in-person voting to make sure that person didn't already vote at the polls before they count it.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 3rd.

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