Registering early can save time at the pollsMinnesota News
-- Ballots this year will be full of options, from presidential candidates to state constitutional amendments to local tax questions. That means polling places probably will be packed too.
By: Danielle Nordine - Red Wing Republican-Eagle, Pierce County Herald
Ballots this year will be full of options, from presidential candidates to state constitutional amendments to local tax questions. That means polling places probably will be packed too.
To save time in line on Election Day Nov. 6, voters can pre-register up until Oct. 16. And it’s something local election officials encourage.
“We highly recommend they do that,” Goodhue County Auditor and Finance Director Carolyn Holmsten said. “If they register before Oct. 16, then their name will be in the roster when they show up at the polls. That will save them a lot of time.”
Voters can register at the Auditor’s Office at the Government Center. Applications are available there or online at the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website.
If voters are unsure whether they have registered or are listed under the correct address, they can use the voter registration lookup at mnvotes.sos.state.mn.us/VoterStatus.aspx.
Registration needs to be updated for those who move, change their name or do not vote for four consecutive years, according to the Secretary of State.
If voters miss the October deadline, Holmsten recommended still filling out the application and having it ready for registering at the polls.
To register on Election Day, voters also must bring an official item with their current name and address, such as a driver’s license, tribal ID card with picture and signature or Minnesota ID card; or bring a voter registered in the precinct where you live who can confirm your address with a signed oath.
Voters also can bring in a photo ID and a bill or statement with the correct address — for example, a utility bill due within 30 days of the election, such as for phone, TV, internet or electric services — a rent statement or current student fee statement.
But it can take time to verify and go through the paperwork at the polls.
“Registration prior to the 16th just makes life easier for everybody,” Holmsten said.
Holmsten also recommended looking on the Secretary of State’s page for local ballots ahead of time. That can cut down on time spent voting and also help people make more informed choices.
“They can look at it now and see if they need to do some research before they go to the polls,” she said.
The My Ballot site at myballotmn.sos.state.mn.us is new this year, just launched by the state.
“As secretary of state, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of voter education and providing voters access to information for them to make informed decisions in the upcoming election,” Mark Ritchie said in a statement Tuesday. He said the site is a “one-stop voter’s guide to individual general election ballots.”
Finding the right polling place before Election Day also is helpful, especially since some have changed. That information is available through My Ballot as well.
For additional information on elections, registration, absentee voting and more, visit the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website at www.sos.state.mn.us and click on “Elections & Voting.”
Can’t make it to the polls?
If voters can’t get to their polling place on Election Day, they can cast an absentee ballot.
On an absentee application, “they have to indicate why they can’t make it to the polls on Election Day,” Goodhue County Auditor and Finance Director Carolyn Holmsten said.
Reasons include illness or disability, absence from precinct, religious reasons and serving as an election judge in another precinct. Military and overseas voters also can cast an absentee ballot.
Absentee ballots can be cast in person at the County Auditor’s Office or at City Hall starting 46 days prior to the election — Friday Sept. 21 this year.
They also can be turned in by mail. Absentee applications, available on the Secretary of State’s website, must be sent to the local election official. The ballot then will be mailed when ready, and a witness must sign the ballot before it is sent back. Ballots must arrive by Election Day.