City and County Legal Updates for Region 5 - October 2018
Preparing for Election Day, Nov. 6, 2018
Voting is one of the most important rights and responsibilities that U.S. citizens have. Millions of people are qualified to vote; unfortunately, many don’t. They give up a chance to choose leaders and representatives who will do things that are important to them. Nobody can force others to vote, but many citizens do vote because voting lets you tell the government what you want it to do. If citizens think they’re paying too many taxes, they can vote for a person who promises to lower taxes. If citizens want more services, they can vote for someone who promises to spend funds to gain more services.
Every vote counts
Every vote counts! An election might be decided by a single vote, and history could be changed forever . Think of it this way: In 1960, Richard Nixon, not John F. Kennedy, would have become president if one person from each voting place had voted differently or not voted at all. In another case, a member of Congress from Alaska won an election by a single vote out of 10,035 cast in the 2008 election. And in Minnesota, a state senator was successful in the run for office by seven votes!
Register to vote
New to Minnesota? Or did you recently move? Be sure your voting registration information is current. You can also register or update your registration when you vote, either at your polling place on Election Day or at an early voting location. You will need proof of residence to register. Minnesota also accepts paper applications, in lieu of registering online, available at your county courthouse and other public places such as libraries or other government offices.
And remember, you’ll need a valid identification card, driver’s license, or other photo identification accompanied by a document with the same name and address.
Lastly, advance registration closes Oct. 17 and reopens Election Day for voters who register at their polling place.
Finding your polling place
Need help finding your polling place? Visit the secretary of state’s website. Simply enter your full address, and you’ll view your polling place complete with directional maps, a list of candidates running for elected office, and a sample ballot unique to candidates running for office in your area.
Too busy to vote? No problem! Voting in Minnesota is acceptable by voting early by mail or in person. It’s easiest to apply for a ballot any time during the year, except the day of the election. Remember, leave time for election officials to mail your ballot to you, and for you to return it on or before Election Day.
For early voting, all voters have at least one location where they can vote in person with an absentee ballot. Depending on where you live, there may be additional locations. For most elections, early voting begins 46 days before the election and is available during regular business hours, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. the last Saturday before the election, and until 5 p.m. the day before Election Day.
You have the right to take time off work to vote without losing your pay, personal leave, or vacation time. Employers are mandated to pay you for the time you need to vote if it falls within your scheduled work time. Your employer cannot require you to use personal leave or vacation time.
- Take only as much time as you need to vote and go to work.
- Employers cannot directly or indirectly refuse, limit, or interfere with this right, including what time you choose to vote.
- Employers can ask that you tell them when you will be gone, and can ask that employees coordinate their absences to minimize workplace disruptions.
- This applies to all state, federal, and all regularly scheduled local elections.
Restrictions on public employees
State and federal laws limit the political activities of public employees. During the hours of employment, law forbids public employees from engaging in political campaign-related work. This includes, but is not limited to, soliciting or receiving funds for political purposes, compelling other employees to join political causes, or recruiting potential voters to become members of a political party.
See you at the polls!
Voting is a constitutional right, a hallmark privilege Americans enjoy. Everyone has a role in the political process of the United States. Our democracy gives us the freedom to express differing political opinions and views. As Americans, we need to come together in our support of democracy by participating in elections. Elected officials’ decisions impact all of us, so we all are responsible for choosing who will represent us to make those decisions. It’s best to educate yourself on the candidates and the issues and exercise your civic duty to cast a ballot just as our country’s founders intended. When you step up to vote, your action says that your rights and responsibilities of citizenship are important. And remember, Minnesota is one of few states where it is legal to take a selfie in the voting booth!
Sourcewell (formerly National Joint Powers Alliance) is a self-supporting government organization, partnering with education, government, and nonprofits to boost student and community success. Created in 1978 as one of Minnesota’s nine service cooperatives, we offer training and shared services to our central-Minnesota members. Throughout North America, we offer a cooperative purchasing program with over 300 awarded vendors on contract. Sourcewell is driven by service and the ability to strategically reinvest in member communities.