With the election season under way, primary elections mark the first major obstacle for office hopefuls. Voters will head to polls Tuesday to cast their ballots in the primary, in which political parties select candidates for the November general election. Some University students will trek to polling places for the first time.
Minnesota Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer emphasized that no one takes office immediately after a primary.
“It’s important to remember that the purpose of primary elections is for political parties to narrow the candidate field to one,” Kiffmeyer said.
To participate in the primary, voters must be 18 or older and a U.S. citizen. In addition, voters must have resided within the state’s borders for no fewer than 20 days.
If all qualifications are met, voters can register online, through the mail or at the polling place the day of the election. There, voters can expect to see a registration table where, upon presenting valid identification, they can sign up to vote.
Valid identification includes a Minnesota driver’s license, state identification card (or receipt for one) or a tribal ID card, though each of these is acceptable only with a current address.
If identification has a former address, voters can bring a utility bill due within 30 days of the election indicating a current address. U.S. passports and military photo ID may also be used as identification, but these are acceptable only when coupled with a utility bill.
Accepted utility bills include electric, gas, water, solid waste, sewer, telephone, cell phone or cable television statements.
University students can use U Cards as a photo ID, but must also have registration with a current address, a bill displaying a current address or a student housing list on file at the polling place.
Kent Kaiser, the Secretary of State’s communications director, said the University provides housing lists to the county. All “relevant polling stations” will have lists of residence hall residents, he said.
Before you vote
To register, voters may also have their residence confirmed by someone who has already completed the registration process in the same precinct.
Additional information on registering to vote, as well as what to expect at the polls, can be found at the Secretary of State’s Web site. A 15-minute video at the Web site explains registering and voting.
Also, voters can use a polling place finder or view a list of all candidates in any precinct in Minnesota.
Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Voters should go to the registration table if they’re unsure whether they are registered or if they need to update registration information.
From there, voters receive a receipt to exchange for a ballot.
When instructed by an election judge, voters may enter an open booth and follow instructions on how to mark the ballot.
Students who wish to cast ballots in their native precincts can submit absentee ballots after proving residence in the appropriate jurisdiction at the county auditor’s office Monday.
These offices will be open until 5 p.m., Kiffmeyer said.
Minnesota law states that voters may cast votes for candidates of only one political party in primaries.
This means that regardless of position, all candidates for which a person votes must have the same political identity. Should a voter mark more than one party’s candidates, or “crossover” while voting, his or her ballot will be discounted.
Although Minnesota uses paper ballots, tabulating machines will identify crossover voting mistakes immediately and voters will be allowed to correct this mistake.
Lauren Frederick, an international business first-year student, said she has been away most of the summer, but plans research online before voting in the primary.
“Obviously, it’s important (to vote) because it will be affecting the future of both my city and my state,” she said. “It’s the time of our lives where we’re getting to vote for the first time, and I’m very excited about that.”
Kiffmeyer offered two final tips for voters, both new and veteran.
“Celebrate the freedom of voting,” she said. “And remember, friends don’t let friends vote alone.”
Voter registration information was compiled from the Secretary of State elections division.
What to bring
Voters must provide ID and proof of residence within the precinct when voting.
Acceptable Forms of ID:
>> Minnesota driver’s license
>>Student photo ID with proof of current address. Student housing lists with all residence hall students will be on file at relevant polling locations.
>>Other photo ID card with utility bill documenting current address.
Someone already registered in the precint where the voter lives may also vouch for residence.
For more information, go to:
To find your polling location, click on: “Polling Place Finder.”
Source: Secretary of State