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 Newsleader did research so 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 advance 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 an 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 (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.
Sartell residents who are in Benton County (east side of Sartell) can vote early at the Benton County Government Center, 531 Dewey St. in Foley. Voting hours for all three of those places are 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and 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 Election Day.
Mail-in 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. For Benton County, call 320-968-5027.
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. Instructions 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 Sartell and St. Stephen area are the following:
Precinct 1: Those people living east of Pinecone Road S. and south of Second Street will vote at the Sartell Community Center.
Precinct 2 (residents in east Sartell): The polling place is at Solid Rock Church, 3010 First Ave. NE.
Precinct 3: All those living east of Pinecone Road N. and north of Second Street S. and south of Fifth Street N. will vote at the Sartell Community Center.
Precinct 4: Voters living west of Pinecone Road S., south of 2-1/2 Street N. and an area south of Third Street N that is west of 19th Avenue N. will vote at First United Methodist Church, 1107 Pinecone Road S.
Precinct 5: Those living east of Pinecone Road N., north of Fifth Street N. and south of 12th Street N. will vote at Messiah Lutheran Church, 320 Fourth Avenue. N.
Precinct 6: Those who live east of Pinecone Road N., north of 12th Street N. and in a portion west of Pinecone Road N. that is north of of 27th Street N. will vote at Celebration Lutheran Church, 1500 Pinecone Road N.
Precinct 7: Residents who live west of Pinecone Road N., north of 2-1/2 Street N. and the portion north of Third Sreet N. that lies west of 19th Avenue N. will vote at Sartell City Hall.
St. Stephen area
Residents within the 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 Ave. in rural Rice.
For more detailed information and to ask questions, please call the following phone numbers:
Stearns County: 320-656-3920
Benton County: 320-968-5027
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.
Author: Dennis Dalman
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.