Mille Lacs County Auditor - Treasurer Eric Bartusch said that as of last Friday, 4,715 ballots were sent out from the county auditor’s office, and 2,845 were received and accepted. Early votes in the form of walk-ins at the courthouse numbered 657.

Bartusch said that as of Friday, there were 50 ballots rejected because the signature envelopes were not signed and that there is a notification letter sent to those individuals to alert them of the rejection so they can have a chance to vote in-person if time does not allow them to mail-in vote.

He added that the actual counting of the ballots won’t begin until this week, likely on Wednesday.

“State statute allows us to begin counting ballots 14 days ahead of the general election day,” said Bartusch. “With the sheer volume of ballots received, we’ll have to start counting early.”

Currently, any ballot postmarked by Nov. 3 and received to the county auditor’s office by Nov. 10 can be accepted. However, Bartusch said there has been a court challenge to this seven-day extension of receiving ballots and that he will be monitoring the situation. “If the legal challenge prevails, we could only accept ballots that are received by Nov. 3,” said Bartusch.

Mille Lacs County had 13,119 people vote in the 2016 general election.

Aside from the significant increase in absentee and early in-person voting, the election has largely been conducted in the same manner as any other election, Bartusch said.

“The pandemic and the national attention on several political races doesn’t change the fact that elections are a very defined, methodical process,” said Bartusch.

Bartusch said that a number of election judges have signed on to be first-time judges which has enabled the county to keep all twenty regular election day polling places open.

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