by Dennis Dalman
People have two options for registering to vote in the Nov. 6 general election. If people have not voted in their precinct in the past four years, they must register again. Those who are not sure if they are still listed as registered can find out if they are registered by visiting the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website: www.sos.state.mn.us.
1. They can register via mail or at the courthouse 20 days before election day, which is Oct. 16. That way, the registered name will appear on the roster when the voter arrives at the polling place.
2. People can also register on election day at one’s polling place. (For how to do that, see below.)
Voter registrations remain current until a person moves, changes a name or does not vote for four consecutive years. For example, if someone was registered to vote five years ago, but that person has not voted in any elections in the past four years, that person must register again now or on election day at the polling place if the person plans to vote Nov. 6.
To register by Oct. 16, people may do so at their county courthouse treasurer-auditor’s office. They can also call the courthouse to have an application sent or they can download an application online at www.co.stearns.mn.us (for Stearns County residents) or www.co.benton.mn.us (for Benton County residents). The phone number for the Stearns County Courthouse Auditor-Treasurer’s Office is 656-3900. The phone number for the Benton County Courthouse is 968-5006.
Those who want to register at their polling place on election day, Nov. 6, should bring one or more of the following items:
A valid Minnesota driver’s license, learner’s permit, Minnesota ID card or receipt for any of those
A valid student ID card including photo if you are a student on a student housing list on file at the polling place.
A tribal ID card that contains your photo and signature.
A valid registration in the same precinct under a different name or address.
A notice of late registration sent to you by your county auditor.
A voter registered in the same precinct as you who can confirm your address with a signed oath.
An employee of a residential facility, including nursing homes, battered women’s shelters, homeless shelters or other licensed facilities may vouch you live there (but only if the facility has provided the county with a certified list of employees).
There is another option for those who may have moved to a new location. In that case, those who register at the polling place can choose to bring a photo ID along with a utility bill sent to you within 30 days before Nov. 6. The photo ID documents can include a Minnesota driver’s license, Minnesota ID card, United States passport, United States military ID card, tribal ID card or an ID card from a Minnesota university, college or technical college. The utility bills can include those for telephones, cable or satellite TV, Internet services, electric, gas, solid waste, sewer services, current student fee statement, water bill or rent statement dated within 30 days of election day that itemizes utilities.
To be eligible to vote, a person must be at least 18 years old on election day, be a citizen of the United States and be a Minnesota resident for 20 days immediately preceding election day. In addition, people would be ineligible to vote if they are in the following categories: a felony conviction record that has not been discharged, expired or completed; being under a court-ordered guardianship in which a court has revoked one’s voting rights; a person has been ruled legally incompetent by a court of law.