Voting Resource Guide
Importance of Voting
Your vote matters. Not only does it matter, but it’s imperative in defending and upholding our democracy. Voting determines much more than who’s president. It decides what type of people will be holding local positions, where funding will go, who gets appointed into federal agencies, and who sits on the bench of our Supreme Court. Voting may feel like an abstract task, but it’s affects our daily lives and how we operate as a nation on the local and federal level.
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Currently, there are two elections happening before the end of the year:
- State Legislative Special Election on August 11, 2020: the registration deadline has passed, but you can still vote and register in person on election day.
- General Election on November 3, 2020: the deadline for registering online or by mail is October 13, 2020. However, you can still vote and register in person on election day.
The Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website provides an easy and safe way to register, request an absentee ballot, and view a sample ballot. Here you can also confirm your registration and learn more about election day voting.
To learn more about elections, you can also check out Vote411’s website. There you will be able to enter your address, find a polling place, and learn more about registering and vote by mail.
If you’re looking for more registration information, Vote.org has the ability to confirm if you’re registered and direct you on where and how to register to vote. This is a more useful tool for people who are registered outside of campus.
How to Vote Absentee
Minnesota is a no excuse absentee state. This means that you may request an absentee ballot and vote by mail for any reason. In the midst of COVID-19, it may be wise to request one and vote from home to avoid exposure and large crowds.
Voting by mail is simple, the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website has an application that you can fill out. This is easiest for those who are registered to vote on campus, as they have apartment options in the drop down menus. This ensures the format is correct and means you get an accurate absentee ballot!
Controversy of Mail in Voting and Voter Fraud
Many, including our current president, believe that absentee and vote by mail ballots are unsafe and will likely generate fraud. This, however, is false. Mail in voting is safe and secure.
Experts posit that successful fraud with absentee ballots would mean replicating a voter’s signature and their registration information that is saved on file. Ultimately, there are too many unique aspects and safety nets put in place for fraud to be successful. The Heritage Foundation also curated a Voter Fraud Database of recent proven voter fraud throughout the country, which only found about 1,290 cases. In other words, voter fraud is rare. To learn more about vote by mail systems and the evidence on why it will not increase voter fraud, check out this Brookings article.
Voting by mail is not a new concept. Oregon has headed the process by making vote by mail their standard system for nearly 20 years now. According to NPR, all states have at least some vote by mail system in place and allow a certain percent of their population to use it. Some may require a valid excuse, while others provide the option for any eligible voter.
Absentee ballots are more important than ever. COVID-19 has presented numerous challenges for voting in person. Ultimately, it is safer to vote from home. Currently, 46 states have altered their voting systems to accommodate for the pandemic. Minnesota, in particular, removed the witness requirement for absentee ballots. This makes it easier to acquire one with minimal contact.
Voting In Person
Come election day, you may feel comfortable voting in person or need to register before you vote. It is important to remember that you will need necessary documentation to register if you are doing so on the same day as voting.
- To find a polling location, simply visit the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website, and search by zip code or county. Vote.org offers a compiled list of each state’s polling place locators, if you are voting out of state.
- Necessary paperwork for in person registration will be different for every state. In Minnesota, it is necessary to bring a photo ID and proof of residence in the form of a utility bill or bank statement. If you are out of state, Vote.org offers a resource of all the states’ Voter ID laws.
It is important to note that the polling location for St. Joseph is no longer located on the College of Saint Benedict campus due to COVID-19. We will be working with students on accessing that location for the upcoming general election.
Voter suppression is any legislation or act that bars or makes voting more difficult for an eligible citizen. This can be in the form of Voter ID laws, voter registration restrictions, voter purges, and felony disenfranchisement To learn more about the ways our right to vote is suppressed in this country, click here.
Know your rights! 866OurVote is a nonpartisan Election Protection coalition that provides an online interactive map that contains information on each state’s election & registration dates, as well as any identification laws or felony conviction restrictions.
The ACLU offers a comprehensive guide on your right to vote and how someone may bar you from exercising it. If you face any challenges in voting, report it and call 1-866-OUR-VOTE.
If you’re interested in being active in our local elections, please consider being an election judge. Many of the elderly population fulfil this role and will be unable to this year due to COVID-19.
Additionally, consider joining or volunteering for a local chapter of the League of Women Voters. This is a nonprofit that focuses on expanding and protecting voter access in order to defend democracy. They also fund Vote411.org.