The election judges in each precinct or the judges of an absentee ballot board shall take possession of all return envelopes delivered to them in accordance with section 203B.08.
Two or more election judges shall examine each return envelope and shall mark it accepted or rejected in the manner provided in this subdivision. If a ballot has been prepared under section 204B.12, subdivision 2a, or 204B.41, the election judges shall not begin removing ballot envelopes from the return envelopes until 8:00 p.m. on election day, either in the polling place or at an absentee ballot board established under section 203B.13.
The election judges shall mark the return envelope "Accepted" and initial or sign the return envelope below the word "Accepted" if the election judges or a majority of them are satisfied that:
(1) the voter's name and address on the return envelope are the same as the information provided on the absentee ballot application;
(2) the voter's signature on the return envelope is the genuine signature of the individual who made the application for ballots and the certificate has been completed as prescribed in the directions for casting an absentee ballot, except that if a person other than the voter applied for the absentee ballot under applicable Minnesota Rules, the signature is not required to match;
(3) the voter is registered and eligible to vote in the precinct or has included a properly completed voter registration application in the return envelope; and
(4) the voter has not already voted at that election, either in person or by absentee ballot.
There is no other reason for rejecting an absentee ballot. In particular, failure to place the ballot within the security envelope before placing it in the outer white envelope is not a reason to reject an absentee ballot.
The return envelope from accepted ballots must be preserved and returned to the county auditor.
If all or a majority of the election judges examining return envelopes find that an absent voter has failed to meet one of the requirements prescribed in clauses (1) to (4), they shall mark the return envelope "Rejected," initial or sign it below the word "Rejected," and return it to the county auditor.
If the return envelope is marked with the word "Accepted," the election judges shall record the fact that the voter has voted by absentee ballot on the polling place roster. This must be done by placing the letters "A.B." in the appropriate space on the roster. After a registration record has been marked to record that an individual has voted by absentee ballot, the individual shall not be allowed to vote in person at that election.
The ballot envelopes from return envelopes marked "Accepted" shall be placed by the election judges in a separate absentee ballot container. The container and each ballot envelope may be opened only after the last regular mail delivery by the United States postal service on election day. The ballots shall then be initialed by the election judges in the same manner as ballots delivered by them to voters in person and shall be deposited in the appropriate ballot box.
If more than one ballot of any kind is enclosed in the ballot envelope, none of the ballots of that kind shall be counted but all ballots of that kind shall be returned in the manner provided by section 204C.25 for return of spoiled ballots.
In municipalities or school districts with an absentee ballot board, the election judges in each precinct shall receive and process return envelopes and ballot envelopes as provided in this section except that the ballot envelopes from return envelopes marked "Accepted" shall be delivered in an absentee ballot container to the absentee ballot board for the counting of ballots as soon as possible after processing. Other law to the contrary notwithstanding, the governing body of a municipality or the school board of a school district with an absentee ballot precinct may authorize the judges of the absentee ballot precinct to validate ballots in the manner provided in this section. The vote totals provided by the absentee ballot board shall be included in the vote totals on the summary statements of the returns for the precinct in which they were received.
The names of voters who have submitted an absentee ballot return envelope to the county auditor or municipal clerk may not be made available for public inspection until the close of voting on election day.