COMMENTARY: Please prepare to vote prior to Election Day
Election Day is Nov. 3 and like almost everything this year there are some new procedures to consider, so now is the time to make your preparations. You will need to determine where you vote, whether or not you need to register, and then the method you wish to use to vote.
Anyone who is new to a precinct, has moved within a precinct, has had an address or name change, or has not voted in the past four years, must register (or re-register) with that precinct. The process is quite simple if done prior to Election Day, and will save you time when you do vote. You can check to see where you vote, and if you are registered, at the Secretary of State (SOS) website, mnvotes.sos.state.mn.us. There is also a link on the Beltrami County website.
If you need to register, you are strongly encouraged to do it online at the SOS website. If you do not have internet access, registration applications can be obtained from the auditor’s Office, on the second of the Beltrami County Administration Building. They can also be printed from the Beltrami County or Secretary of State websites.
Drop off or mail your completed application at the auditor’s office in the county where you live. Registration must be done prior to 5 pm. on Oct. 13 to meet the deadline for this year’s General Election.
If registering after Oct. 13, please be aware that law requires you to show a photo ID when signing as a new registrant at the polling place.
Due to social distance restrictions and sanitizing precautions at the polling places this year, you need to be aware that there may be more waiting time there. If you decide to wait until Election Day to register, the process can take more time and you will need to supply the appropriate documentation proving residency in that precinct.
The law is very specific on what can be used that day and therefore, know what those requirements are prior to going to the polls.
There will be face mask requirements in place at the polls this year, and your cooperation is necessary to help protect the election judges and others in the polling place.
If you are not willing to wear a mask, please consider your other option of requesting an absentee ballot. The application can be found at the same locations listed above and your ballot will be mailed to you. You can then mail your ballot back in the envelope provided, or drop it off at the Administration Building prior to Election Day. Mailed ballots can easily be tracked on the link provided to you, and you can be assured that it was received and processed.
Another option that you might consider is voting prior to Election Day. This can be done anytime during the normal business hours at the Beltrami County Administration Building at 701 Minnesota Ave. NW. There will also be additional hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 2.
Also remember that candidate endorsements are not allowed during voting on the polling place property, and include items with candidate endorsements such as caps, face masks, T-shirts, etc. You will be required to remove them.
So, please help the many election judges that spend a very long day working at the polls, by taking the time now to prepare to vote.
Mary Israelson, Bemidji, is an election judge for Northern Township