By Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership
Last Tuesday, October 16, marked the three-week-out mark for the 2018 midterm election, and the last day for Minnesotans to register to vote prior to Election Day, November 6. The week marked another important election milestone: the number of voters requesting early ballots nearly tripled in comparison to the same time four years ago during the last midterm election.
This significant change builds on a proud tradition of high voter turnout in Minnesota. It’s worth noting, however, that in the 2014 midterms scarcely more than half of eligible Minnesotans cast a ballot. This greatly exceeded the turnout rate of 36.4% nationwide, but it was still our state’s lowest general election turnout rate since 1986, and it left plenty of room for improvement.
As a nonprofit organization and Minnesota’s largest coalition of environmental groups, MEP does not endorse candidates or participate in election campaigning. But we take pride in our state’s legacy of high voter participation, and we strongly in maintaining and expanding that legacy. We believe that creating a consensus on how best to steward Minnesota’s land, air, and water requires input from as many Minnesotans as possible – and voting is at the core of that effort.
That’s why we created our Voter Resources page
Since August, we’ve been listing information on how to register, how to cast a ballot, and how to get informed about the candidates on our Voter Resources web page. We encourage all interested Minnesotans to use it as suits them best, and here are some of the highlights and clarifying information:
Casting a ballot
- We’ve included links to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s instructions on how to cast a ballot, including voting early and on Election Day. It’s worth noting that every Minnesota county election office offers early voting in person, and 16 Minnesota counties (representing more than half of Minnesota’s population) have other locations that are also open for early voting.
- Minnesota is one of 17 states with Election Day registration, so if you aren’t registered to vote, you can do so on November 6 at your local polling place – just make sure to bring proof of residence. You must have lived in Minnesota for at least 20 days prior to November 6.
- We’ve begun compiling nonpartisan voter guides to where the candidates stand on the issues, such as MPR News’ analysis of several candidates’ statements on climate change.
- We’ve included links to videos of past candidate forums and information about upcoming candidate events. The League of Women Voters – Minnesota (an MEP member organization) hosts forums for many local candidates around the state – their calendar has the details.
Engaging with leaders
Voting is the most basic civic duty of citizens in Minnesota, but we know and appreciate that many Minnesotans go above and beyond this important step. Volunteering to assist in the election process and encouraging friends and neighbors to vote creates an even greater impact.
We also encourage Minnesotans to engage directly with candidates and elected officials. Candidates will only make our state’s natural resources and public health a priority if they hear questions and concerns about them from Minnesota voters. Most campaigns have plentiful opportunities for voters to contact candidates to raise these issues. For those who would like information to share with candidates, our recent articles on issues such as Great Lakes restoration, climate change, transportation, natural resources funding, and pollution in drinking water can be a helpful resource.
Like our beloved lands and lakes, the exercise of our right to vote is one of our state’s proudest qualities. Let’s continue to build on that legacy on November 6.