Early voting starts today, 46 days until Nov. 8th election

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(ABC 6 News) – There are some big races on the ballot this Nov. and early voting kicked off today.

For many, early voting enables more flexibility and access when casting your ballot.

“Voting is a critical to our society, our country and it’s a privilege we have as American citizens,” said Debra McCauley, who cast her vote today. “I’ve been voting ever since I’ve been eligible and I encourage everyone to do so.”

The first thing voters need to do is fill out an absentee ballot form, which can be done a few ways.

Voters can fill one out and submit online, or mail that form directly to your local election office. It can also be filled out in person, before you fill out your ballot.

If you need to register to vote, you are also able to register and vote on the same day.

“We think it’s important just to have more accessibility for voting,” said Luke Turner, the Olmsted County elections manager. “We want to make it as convenient as possible. Everybody should have the ability to vote without being met with a certain time schedule or time constraint.”

For voters like McCauley, who are out of town during election week, early voting makes the process easier.

“It’s critical that the voting process is convenient, easy and supportive. This process that I just did for absentee voting, the staff was very helpful, they answered all of my questions, it was vey smooth,” said McCauley.

While candidates opinions differ on many different topics, they all agree having more options and time to vote is valuable.

“This is your opportunity Minnesotans, people in Rochester, you have a lot of options for voting and it begins today. So make a plan and make sure that you don’t lose your chance to have a voice,” said State Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL).

“It’s just our basic right as citizens of this country to be involved and engaged in our republic, our demoracy, and our opportunity to vote, to make sure our voices are heard and represented,” echoed Rep. Brad Finstad (GOP).