Our View: Be informed before voting early
Because of the coronavirus, a record number of us this election will vote absentee, from home, via the mail — and long before Election Day in six weeks on Nov. 3. In the name of doing what we can to protect public health as well as our own well-being, absentee voting is a responsible and proper move for many.
But early voting can’t mean rushed, uninformed voting or simply following blindly the direction of political parties that have become dangerously extreme or other groups with their own ulterior motives. Our votes ought to be personal, taken seriously, and cast only after careful consideration.
This election especially deserves ample attention and brainpower. In addition to the headline-grabbing presidential tilt, there are races in Duluth and Northeastern Minnesota for our local congressional representative; for one of our state’s two U.S. Senate positions; and for Minnesota House, Minnesota Senate, and St. Louis County Board.
A lot can happen between now and Election Day (or a week or so sooner to allow ample time for absentee ballots to be delivered on time). A lot of information and plenty of perspectives will be published and put out there, each detail and revelation demanding the careful consideration of responsible voters. Voting isn't something to be done hastily or without first doing homework.
Early absentee voting opened Friday in Minnesota. It’s a great convenience for many and a godsend this COVID-19 year for those who are or live with someone medically fragile or vulnerable. In some instances, it’s the only way an eligible voter can cast a ballot: college students attending school away from home, snowbirds leaving for warmer climes ahead of the election, military members stationed elsewhere, and even those working multiple jobs who are unsure of their Election Day schedule.
The vast majority of voters, however, should be wary of wading in too early. We only get one shot, and we don’t want to vote for a candidate who proves to be, shall we say, less-than-stellar during the public scrutiny that precedes elections.
We can keep in mind this cautionary reminder not to waste our vote with haste: In the 1990 election for Minnesota governor, Republican nominee Jon Gronseth dropped out just nine days ahead of Election Day following allegations of nude swimming with young girls at a pool party at his residence.
And there’s this reminder: Just 11 days before Election Day in 2002, U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone perished in a plane crash near Eveleth that also killed his wife, daughter, and five others.
The unforeseen can dramatically and quickly change a political landscape and the decision-making of voters. Early voters don't get do-overs.
Decisions as important as who our elected representatives are shouldn't be rushed or just gotten out of the way. Voters must take the time they need to be informed before coloring in those little eggs on their ballot cards.