MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota: Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, the state's top election official, released a statement urging members of the United States military serving overseas to apply for their absentee ballot today. Friday, September 17th marks the beginning of Minnesota's absentee balloting period and the first day on which general election ballots become available. He argued that "applying now will ensure that you receive your ballot immediately when they become available and give you more time to mail it back to Minnesota to be counted on Nov. 2."  Ritchie has suggested that all overseas Minnesota voters, whether they are in the military or not, should visit the Overseas Vote Foundation website, a free service that will guide an individual through the process of how to apply for their absentee ballot successfully.