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Parties focus on absentee voting

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota’s major political parties said they would play up the state’s new absentee voting options this political season while announcing field-office operations Thursday.

Republicans said they have opened 10 “victory centers” statewide and plan to add up to 10 more as part of a stepped-up effort to mobilize support for their candidates.

The party also launched a website,, to educate voters about the state’s new “no excuses” absentee balloting law and to connect them to the secretary of state website. Before the law change, voters had to give a legally recognized excuse to obtain an absentee ballot.

“This is a substantial upgrade in what the state party is helping provide for our candidates,” said party chair Keith Downey.

The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, meanwhile, said it has opened 18 offices around the state.

DFL chair Ken Martin said field staff will play up the accomplishments under single-party DFL rule the past few years, as well as the added convenience of the new absentee voting rules.

“No excuse absentee balloting makes voting more accessible to people with busy lifestyles or have concerns about getting to the polls. People can vote early in person or by mail and not worry about getting to the polls Nov. 4,” Martin said.

Minnesotans are electing a governor, U.S. senator and state representatives this fall, among other offices.

At a news conference announcing the new GOP efforts, Downey declined to respond specifically to questions about the state of party support for endorsed Supreme Court candidate Michelle L. MacDonald. MacDonald, of Rosemount, was arrested in April 2013 and charged with driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest and faces a Sept. 15 trial. Downey said generally endorsed candidates receive the support of the party.

He said the party’s executive committee was scheduled to meet Thursday evening and that the MacDonald issue was not on the agenda but could come up. MacDonald was not featured along with other endorsed candidates on the new website Thursday, but she remained on the general party site.

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.