by Dennis Dalman
With Election Day right around the corner, now is the time for prospective voters to get all their ducks in a row so they are ready to cast their ballots by or on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
There are many choices on the ballots, including presidential candidates as well as local, state and county offices and a slate of judges.
The St. Joseph Newsleader did research so that we can answer any voting-related questions readers may have.
Am I registered?
The best way to find out for sure is to go to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website at mnvotes.org. Then click on “Register to Vote,” and while scrolling down on the right you will see “Check my registration.” Click on that. Enter name, birth date, zip code and home address. Then click on the green “Find Registration” box. Then you will know if you are registered or not. If you are registered, you don’t have to do anything other than vote early or vote on Election Day.
The pre-registration period ended on Oct. 13. However, do not worry because you can still register to vote at your polling place right on Election Day just before receiving a ballot. But you must bring proof of identity in one or more of the following forms: a Minnesota driver’s license or Minnesota I.D. card or last four digits of your Social Security number. To show proof of your current residence, you can present one of the following: any photo I.D.s even if they are expired, plus proof that you live at your current home address such as a household bill (such as utilities bill) with current address on it due or dated within 30 days of Nov. 3, Election Day. Acceptable are bills showing on an electrical device, such as iPhone. Students can bring school I.D.s showing current address.
Another way to vote, lacking some of those documents, is to bring along someone (a registered voter) who can vouch for your identity and your current address.
It is still possible to vote early (called “absentee voting”) in person right up until Nov. 3.
Sartell residents in Stearns County can vote early early (called “absentee voting”) in person right up until Nov. 3. They can vote at one of two places: the Stearns County Administration Building (by the courthouse) in downtown St. Cloud; and at the Stearns County Service Center in Waite Park. Voting hours at those two places are from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and a special open day from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31. Voting can also be done at those places from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 2, the day right before official Election Day.
Mail-in ballots or absentee ballots are also an option many voters are choosing because of the pandemic crisis. To request a mail-in ballot in Stearns County, call 320-656-3920. Call in your ballot request as soon as possible as it may take some time to arrive in your mailbox.
People should be sure to fill out the ballots as soon as they receive them and send them back as soon as possible, preferably on the same day they fill them out. Instruction for filling out, sealing and sending the ballot should be followed carefully to ensure it will be counted. The ballot can be sent back in the mail or hand-delivered to the government centers as noted above.
Ballots must be postmarked before or on Nov. 3 and must be received within 10 days after Election Day or they cannot be counted.
Where do I vote?
People who choose to cast their ballots in person at polling places on Nov. 3 will be expected to wear a mask and follow social-distancing guidelines. Election Day voting hours are 7 a.m.-8 p.m.
The polling places for St. Joseph and the immediate area are the following:
City of St. Joseph
Precinct 1: The polling place is Resurrection Lutheran Church for residents who live west of College Avenue/County Road 2.
Precinct 2. The polling place is the St. Joseph Government Center for those living east of College Avenue/County Road 2.
St. Stephen area
All residents within the St. Stephen city limits will vote at St. Stephen City Hall, 2 Sixth Avenue SE.
Those in LeSauk Township will vote at LeSauk Town Hall, 220 Fourth Ave. S. in Sartell.
Brockway Township residents will vote in Brockway Town Hall, 43710 85th Avenue in rural Rice.
For more detailed information and to ask questions, please call the following phone number:
Stearns County: 320-656-3920
Or visit the Minnesota Secretary of State Office website: mnvotes.org. On that site, many questions are answered; specific voting-procedure directions are given and there are sample ballots so voters can ponder their choices ahead of time.