Local View: Come on, Minnesota, let's lead again in voter turnout
In 2018, in an editorial, the News Tribune issued a challenge. While celebrating the 72% turnout in the 2018 midterm elections and the 80% in the 2016 presidential election, the paper urged, “We can do better, of course.”
The League of Women Voters of Duluth wholeheartedly agrees and encourages the community to exceed these impressive performances this Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3. You can vote safely, securely, and free from intimidation.
If you don’t know how to vote, have never voted before, or are nervous about voting due to COVID-19, we have important information to share. In Minnesota, you do not need to vote at your polling place on Election Day. You can cast your ballot from the comfort of your home. Here are some tips.
First, confirm you are registered to vote and that your information is up-to-date. You can register or update your registration at mnvotes.org . Sample ballots are also available there.
You can also request an absentee ballot at mnvotes.org. Instead of clicking to register to vote, click on “Other Ways to Vote,” and then “Request an absentee ballot online.” Fill out the request, and you will be sent a ballot. You can also call your county elections office to request an absentee ballot. Request your absentee ballot as soon as possible — and no later than Tuesday, Oct. 20, which is two weeks before Election Day.
Then vote! Complete and mail in or drop off your absentee ballot. Carefully follow the instructions that come with the ballot. Your signature and other information on the signature envelope must match the information on your absentee ballot application or your vote won’t be counted.
Finally, return the ballot. Even though ballots don't have to be postmarked until Election Day, we recommend returning them as soon as possible to allow for any potential postal service delays. If you drop off your ballot, do so by 5 p.m. on Nov. 2. Duluth City Hall offers drop-box locations, in-person at the Priley Circle Entrance and via a drive-up at the one-way parking lot off West Second Street. St. Louis County also has drop-box locations at the Duluth courthouse and at the Virginia Government Services Center.
If you would prefer to vote in-person, remember to wear your face mask and practice social distancing. Early in-person voting until Oct. 26 takes the form of applying for an absentee ballot and submitting the absentee ballot in an envelope. From Oct. 27 through Nov. 2, early in-person voting is direct balloting, which allows you to feed your ballot into a voting machine. Staff will be available to help with these processes.
Duluth City Hall weekdays between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m., with extended hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Tuesday, Oct. 27 through Saturday, Oct. 31. Additionally, City Hall will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 2.
St. Louis County elections offices weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.; on Saturday, Oct. 31 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and on Monday, Nov. 2 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Or the Carlton County elections offices weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; on Saturday, Oct. 31 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and on Monday, Nov. 2 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
To vote in-person on Election Day, you can find your polling place by visiting mnvotes.org. The Minnesota Secretary of State has taken steps to make polling locations safe, including curbside voting, which allows you to cast your ballot without leaving your vehicle. The inside of and 100 feet around polling places are to be free of partisan and political messaging.
Please know that you have options to not only vote safely and securely but with confidence and enthusiasm this year. In 2016, Minnesota ranked first in voter turnout nationally, and you can be part of our local effort to ensure that we once again lead the nation.
Pat Castellano, Mary Faulkner, and Ellen Wiss are voter service chairs for the League of Women Voters of Duluth. They wrote this for the News Tribune.