ST. CLOUD -- Primary election day is coming up on Tuesday but thousands of Stearns County residents have already cast their ballots.

Auditor-Treasurer Randy Schreifels says they've already had over 7,000 mail-in or absentee ballots returned to his office. By comparison, two years ago they had less than 3,000 by primary election day, and four years ago they received less than 800 early ballots.

Schreifels says the number of small cities and townships in Stearns County that are only doing mail-in ballots this year has increased to 31, up from 22 two years ago.

He says as for worries about voter fraud with mail-in ballots, he's not concerned.

They are 100 percent safe.  For us, it's the smaller cities and townships that get it, and you have to be a registered voter, so there are procedures that get you on the voter registration list.  So those people getting it, we know that they are registered and we know that it's a correct address.

Schreifels says Minnesota's voter registration list is updated regularly removing people who have died or have been convicted of a felony, also if you haven't voted for four years you are removed from the list.

The Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon is advising us that we may not know the results of some of the closest races that night or even the next morning. Mail-in and absentee voting are running extremely high across the state this year and there is a change in state law. Schreifels says absentee ballots previously had to be received by election officials by election day, now they just need to be postmarked by Tuesday.

It has to be postmarked for the primary on election day and then received by Thursday.  I wouldn't wait until Monday or Tuesday I would get it done.

Schreifels says the mail-in ballots will continue to be counted through Thursday.

In-person voting on Tuesday will be from 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.

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