Who can vote?
Generally, as guaranteed under the U.S. and Minnesota Constitutions, any citizen 18 years of age or older may vote unless somehow disqualified. Under the Minnesota Constitution, you must have been a citizen of the United States for three months. You must also have been a Minnesota resident for at least 20 days before the election. A person who has been convicted of treason or a felony is not permitted to vote until they finish all parts of the felony sentence. A person under guardianship in which the right to vote has been revoked, or who has been found by a court to be insane or mentally incompetent, is also not permitted to vote.
The law forbids charging fees to vote in any local, state, or federal election.
In Minnesota, you must register in order to vote in any local, state, or federal election. This can be done up to 21 days in advance of the election, or at the polling place at the time you go to vote. Registration is also available online at www.mnvotes.org. Voter registration forms are available at county courthouses, city halls, and other public buildings.
They must be mailed back to the county auditor.
To register to vote in any election you must present proof of residency. Some of the accepted proofs of residency are:
- A current valid photo ID such as a Minnesota driver’s license, learner’s permit, tribal ID, or Minnesota ID card that shows your name and a valid address in the precinct.
- College student ID card showing current enrollment, which the election officials will match to a housing list sent by your college.
- Go to the precinct with someone who knows you and who is registered to vote in the precinct, and they can sign an oath.
For more information on registering on the day of the election, or ahead of time, contact the municipal clerk.
As a college student, you have a choice as to where to cast your ballot. You may select only one residence and vote once in any given election. If you live at home while attending school, you vote at your hometown polling place.
Whether you live on campus, or off campus, you may vote either at your hometown polling place (as long as you still have a permanent residence there), or at the polling place in the neighborhood where your school is located (but not at
An absentee ballot allows you to vote early without going to the polling place on Election Day. Any voter may vote absentee. You can request to have an absentee ballot mailed to you at www.mnvotes.org. You may also obtain a ballot from the municipal clerk of the community that is your place of residence, or have a person you know pick up and deliver your ballot for you. Absentee ballots are available 46 days before an election.
After marking the ballot as you choose, return it within the period of time stated on the ballot. The easiest way to vote by absentee ballot is to do so in person at your county auditor or city or township clerk’s office. You can also return an absentee ballot by mail, or have a person you know return it to the municipal clerk for you.
You continue to have the right to vote in federal elections. With regard to state and local elections, you must consult local government officials in your new community about requirements for registration and for length of time you need to have lived in the district.
There are different age requirements for different offices. You may want to check local government offices, such as your city, for its requirements. To run for the offices of either Minnesota governor or lieutenant governor, you must be at least 25 years old, a resident of Minnesota for one year, and a U.S. citizen. State senators and representatives need only be qualified voters and must have lived for one year in Minnesota and six months in the district from which they are elected.
To run for the U.S. House of Representatives, you must be at least 25 years of age and a U.S. citizen for a minimum of seven years. To run for the U.S. Senate, you must be at least 30 years of age and a U.S. citizen for at least nine years. To be U.S. president, you must be a natural-born citizen of the United States, a resident for at least 14 years, and at least 35 years old.