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Our View: Don't forget today's primary; it's too important to skip

From the editorial: "Anyone thinking of sitting this one out can remember that the right to cast ballots was paid for with blood shed on battlefields and has been protected with vigilance and ferocity for generations. Remember that voting shouldn't be seen as a chore but as a privilege and a responsibility."

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Dave Granlund / Cagle Cartoons
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It's only a primary, right? Well, yeah, a primary election is being held today in Minnesota, including in Duluth and across the northeastern corner of the state. But "only" a primary? No way.

In spite of the lack of interest in primaries, especially those lacking the buzz of a coming presidential tilt, today's vote matters. Its impact cannot be denied. It’s critical enough that eligible voters can make a point of not missing it, of not skipping it, of not stepping aside and allowing others to trim candidate fields and to decide who to send on to Election Day on Nov. 8.

Who you want on the November ballot is up to you, but first you have to choose to participate. Even if it is summer.

Statewide, the governor/lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and attorney general races all have Republican and DFL primaries today. Voters can fill out ballots in one or the other.

In the Northland, there are Republican and Democratic primaries, too, for the 8th Congressional District, a St. Louis County Board primary on the Iron Range, a primary for county sheriff, and six legislative primaries.

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In the 8th Congressional District, on the Republican side, incumbent U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber is being challenged by Harry Welty; and on the Democratic side, John Munter and Jennifer Schultz are the candidates hoping to make it to Election Day.

For St. Louis County sheriff, Jason Lukovsky, Gordon Ramsay, and Chad Walsh are running to replace Sheriff Ross Litman, who’s retiring after 20 years and five terms. Tuesday’s top two vote-getters advance.

In Minnesota Senate District 3, Republicans Kelsey Johnson and Andrea Zupancich are in the primary to determine who’ll face DFLer Grant Hauschild in the race to replace Sen. Tom Bakk, who’s retiring after 27 years of legislative service.

In Minnesota Senate District 7, DFLers Ben DeNucci and Kim (Kotonias) McLaughlin have a primary to determine Republican Robert Farnsworth’s opponent on Election Day.

In Minnesota Senate District 11, the winner of the DFL primary featuring Michelle Boyechko and John Peura will challenge incumbent Republican Sen. Jason Rarick.

In Minnesota House District 3A, Republicans Blain Johnson and Roger J. Skraba face off for the chance to challenge incumbent DFL Rep. Rob Ecklund.

In Minnesota House District 8A, Republicans Art Johnston and Allan Kehr are hoping to make it past Tuesday to take on incumbent DFL Rep. Liz Olson.

In Minnesota House District 8B, where Rep. Jen Schultz didn’t seek re-election, DFLers Arik Forsman and Alicia Kozlowski have a primary, with Republican Becky Hall waiting to take on the survivor.

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And for St. Louis County Board in District 6, Matt Matasich, John Moren, and incumbent Commissioner Keith Nelson are on Tuesday’s primary ballot, with the top two vote-getters going on.

All the candidates were invited by the News Tribune Opinion page this summer to pen columns. In addition, the News Tribune Editorial Board met with the candidates and offered endorsements, and the news department reported on all the races and candidates. A few minutes spent scrolling and reading at duluthnewstribune.com and at duluthnewstribune.com/opinion can help any voter make an informed decision.

In addition to deciding who to vote for and whose campaigns to bring to an end, voters this primary day need to double check their polling places before heading to them. Once-a-decade redistricting this year has changed some. Be sure where to go by checking in with the Minnesota Secretary of State’s poll-finder site at pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us/ .

If this all seems like too much hassle — especially for a primary — consider the words of Matthew Gross, writing in 2020 for Harvard Political Review: "Apathy and low turnout should not continue to define local elections," he wrote. "The stakes of local elections might not be as widely reflected in the media as they are about the Presidential Election, but local elections have real consequences. ... People should take the time to become informed about their local elections. ... Voters should not dismiss them."

Or consider this: "Because turnout is lower (in local elections), your vote can actually make even more of a difference," as the Campus Election Engagement Project, the "Rock the Vote" folks, point out.

As the old saying goes, those who show up make the decisions and run things. We can show up today in droves rather than just griping and complaining later.

Discouragingly, though, voter-turnout history suggests that won't happen. In the 1950s and 1960s, about a third of eligible voters went to the primary polls, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State's office. In 21st-century elections, single-digit-percentage turnouts have been the norm.

Anyone thinking of sitting this one out can remember that the right to cast ballots was paid for with blood shed on battlefields and has been protected with vigilance and ferocity for generations. Remember that voting shouldn't be seen as a chore but as a privilege and a responsibility; it's our duty as residents of our communities. In far too much of the rest of the world, citizens only wish they had such an opportunity.

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Polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. today, assuming you haven’t already voted early.

Yes, there’s that widely held notion that it's "only a primary," but every election is critical. This one, too. And every election has consequences. That seems reason enough to choose to participate.

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DNT

What to read next
From the editorial: "Before casting any ballot, it’s good to be educated on the issues and candidates. The forums this coming week are valuable opportunities."