Monday, October 24, 2016

Voting: A little Quality Time To Yourself

This year's election will be on November 8. Polling places will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.. You might be wondering what it's like to vote. Here you go:

First, find out where you are supposed to vote. Voting locations are based on your address. They're usually conveniently close to your house. Usually, your polling place will be a local school or possibly a church building; this is in order to accommodate a large number of people with no problem. *You need to go the polling place designated for you, you cannot just go into any polling place.

You can look up where your polling place is by entering your zip code and address here:

The polling place will be tended by a number of election judges. These people keep order, check registered voters in, register new voters, and make sure all ballots are kept secret and secure for the day of the election. They often work from 6:00 a.m. until after the polls are closed for the evening. If you're interested in becoming an election judge, click on this link:

**Did you know students ages 16-17 can be Election Judge Trainees and help out at the polling place on Election Day?** Sounds like a great way to see the process of election!!

This link tells you how to vote if you are away at college, and other special circumstances. There are links to a paper registration and where to mail it, or to register online as well: 

Graphic from 2012: Look how many people were in the 21-40 years old age group--That's voting power.

If you haven't registered to vote, you can bring with identification and register right before you vote. You will need a Drivers License or your Social Security number. You may also need to show a bill, such as a utility bill, to prove you live at your address.
You can vote in Minnesota if:
  • You are a Citizen of the United States
  • You are 18 years old by Election Day, November 8, 2016
  • You have lived in Minnesota for 20 days prior to November 8. Thus, you have to have lived in this state on October 19th.
  • You must not have been convicted of treason or a felony
  • You are not legally incompetent
You only need to register one time.

This is a typical ballot from the last election.
Once you are registered, an Election Judge will hand you a ballot. These are often long sheets of paper with all the candidates listed for each position being elected, and will be in a large cardboard folder. You'll be given the right sort of pen or marker to use on the ballot, Be sure you turn it over and look at all the different offices you can vote for.

Other officials may be up for election on your ballot, and there may also be items specifically related to one city or one district. For example, this year in Minnesota, voters can cast a ballot for these people:
  • President and Vice President: The ballot lists Democrate, Republican, and Independent Party choices. You have the right to write in another name of your choice and vote for that person.
  • U.S. Representative, District 6
  • State Senator, District 37 and 37A
  • County Commissioner, District 3
  • Soil and Water Superintendent
  • Mayor, City of Blaine
  • Council Member: Ward 1, Blaine
  • Some Associate Justices
  • Many Judges
  • A question put to the voters of Blaine about a community center/Senior Center.
While it would be appreciated if you look up these folks and make an informed decision, you are not required to vote for any other officials. If you only want to vote for President, you can do that and your vote will be counted. If you see the word "incumbent" before a name, that means the person already holds the office and is running for re-election.

A ballot like the one you see above  requires you to fill in the ovals next to the candidate you want to vote for. As with any scanned type of paper, be sure you fill the oval neatly, not too small and not too sloppy; the scanner can't read those and will reject your ballot.

If you mess up your ballot, take it to an election judge to get a fresh one. Don't crumple it up, just hand it to a judge.

The next time there is an election, since you have registered, you simply go to your polling place, give an election judge your name and address, and then sign next to your name. Then you'll be given your ballot (voting paper) and directed to a booth.

Some booths have long curtains for your privacy and some have sides that would prevent anyone from seeing who you're voting for. Some places have curtains behind the voter, but either way,  keeping your vote secret is no problem.
Ballot Booths. They each have tall sides so you can't see anyone's ballot.

When you are done (and take your time, be sure you are voting for the people you want) you can put your paper ballot back into the large cardboard folder and bring it to the person who is putting the ballots into the counting machine. No need to remove it from the folder, it will hang out enough for the scanner to grab it. The machine looks like this:

No one is going to see who you voted for, including the election judge.

You'll probably be offered an "I Voted" sticker to place on your jacket.

That's it!! You just made your voice heard. Now you can keep tabs on results as they come in by watching it on TV or online.

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