If I vote twice in the upcoming presidential election, as President Trump suggested early this week, is this a good way to check the integrity of the election system? Or could I get in trouble? Can I vote early and often? -- A voter
No, you can't. Yes, you could get in trouble. Voting twice is a felony. But you don't need to vote twice to test the integrity of the system. And here's why.
But a little back story first. Trump, speaking to his supporters in North Carolina, was encouraging them to vote by absentee ballot. But then he added that they should "check their vote," by trying to cast a ballot at the polls on Election Day, to see if they're marked down already.
"If their system is as good as they say it is, then obviously they won't be able to vote," he said. "If it isn't tabulated, they'll be able to vote."
Trump's suggestion produced howling and caterwauling. But for those entrusted to carry out and safeguard an already-stressed election system, it added another headache. And, yes, it is against the law, but a person has to show that they have bad intent to be successfully prosecuted.
"It's like advising someone to try rob a bank to see if the security is as good as the bank says it is," said Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon.
But it is also unnecessary, said Mark Krupski, Olmsted County director of property records and licensing and who oversees elections. Absentee voters can check online at the Minnesota Secretary of State's website to see if their ballot has been processed and accepted. Just as you can order a pizza online and follow its progress to your door, you can watch your ballot progress through the stages to acceptance.
"If we processed your ballot and accepted your ballot and you show up at the polling place, we have electronic poll rosters now," Krupski said. "They call them e-poll books, and we download everything, and we keep them in sync. So if you go and vote, it will show up on there. You won't be able to vote."
But if you insist on voting, then you could be crossing into criminal territory. "It would be investigated by the attorney general's office," Krupski said.
"I wouldn't suggest people go and try to vote twice," he added. "I would recommend that they go online and check to see if their ballot was accepted. People do it all the time."
He said once in a while a person shows up at polling station insisting that they haven't voted when in fact they already have. The system is designed to keep them from voting twice.
Balloting by mail will play a large role in November's election, largely because of the coronavirus pandemic and one-time-only laws passed for this election. Krupski said the county has already received 30,000 absentee ballots and is on course to collect as many as 60,000. That would be five times the number -- 13,000 -- filed in 2016.
People can begin voting absentee on Sept. 18. And if you want to drop off your ballot instead of mailing it, you can go the county election office at 2122 Campus Drive Southeast or the Olmsted County Government Center's property records division.
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