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New voter registration 'lookup' service launched at Minnesota State Fair

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news Willmar, 56201
West Central Tribune
(320) 235-6769 customer support
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

ST. PAUL -- In between eating something deep-fried on a stick at the Minnesota State Fair, visitors can also make sure they are registered to vote through a new online service being launched at the Secretary of State's outreach booth at the Great Minnesota Get-Together.

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Called the voter registration lookup service, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said the online program is an innovation his office created to help voters participate in the upcoming election.

"Often, voters are unsure if they're registered or are unaware that their registration is out-of-date because they may have recently moved," Ritchie said.

"In just seconds, this easy-to-use service will quickly inform voters whether they are registered at their current address and provide links to resources to guide voters on what to do if they are not."

The online service can be accessed from any computer by going to www.sos.state.mn.us and clicking on "voter registration lookup" section. State Fair visitors can also use the online service while at the State Fair, which opens today and runs through Labor Day.

By typing in basic information, name, age and address, people can find out if their voter registration is current and the location of their polling place for this fall's general election.

Richtie said the office continues to "use technology in an effort to help voters participate in their democracy."

In addition to the new voter registration lookup, the office has partnered with the United States Postal Service since 2009 to update voter registrations automatically.

Minnesotans who move and complete a USPS change-of-address form to permanently forward their mail to their new residence may now receive a green postcard in the mail confirming their registration was updated automatically.

Approximately 14 percent of Minnesota residents change their residence annually. The office has already helped update more than 100,000 voter registrations through this program, said Ritchie.

In 2008, the office partnered with the Overseas Vote Foundation to create an online service to make it easier for Minnesota's military and overseas voters serving abroad to participate in elections. More than 5,000 voters used the service to request their absentee ballots in 2008. The service helped to increase the number of ballots returned from 27 percent in 2006 to 76 percent in 2008.

The Minnesota State Fair also marks the beginning of the office's fall drive to register and educate voters about the November election. The office has planned statewide college campus visits, will attend numerous festivals and community events and conduct voter education workshops.

For more information about voter eligibility, registration and elections, visit the office at www.mnvotes. org.

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