Editorial - Get informed about elections right nowWith the first wave of filing for public office now over, the choices Douglas County residents will face this November are becoming more clear. We urge all residents – especially those who have turned a deaf ear to the political process in the past – to tune in and become more engaged in determining who our elected leaders will be.
With the first wave of filing for public office now over, the choices Douglas County residents will face this November are becoming more clear.
We urge all residents – especially those who have turned a deaf ear to the political process in the past – to tune in and become more engaged in determining who our elected leaders will be.
The Douglas County Board race is especially noteworthy this year because all five commissioner positions are up for election. A total of 15 candidates have filed. (Our story last Friday listed them all and we will be printing more information about their campaigns in the coming weeks.) Because more than two candidates filed in Districts 2, 3 and 4, a primary will take place on August 14.
The filing for other important local positions – school boards and city councils – will open July 31 and close August 14. Residents should pay close attention to what develops in those races as well.
Things are going to be confusing for voters this year. Because of redistricting, residents will find themselves in new jurisdictions at the local and state level. Just one example: Forada, which had been in Douglas County District 4 (currently represented by Paul Anderson), is now in District 2 (where Norm Salto is the incumbent).
The changes at the state level are even more sweeping. Douglas County used to be in one Senate district (11) and two House districts (11A and 11B). Now, it’s split into two new Senate districts (8 and 12) and three new House districts (8B, 12A and 12B).
Voters can easily check which political jurisdictions they live in by going to the Minnesota secretary of state’s website – www.sos.state.mn.us – and clicking on “Elections and Voting.” By following the “Where Do I Vote” link and filling in some address fields, you can quickly find out which Senate, House and county commissioner district you are in as well as your polling place. Another option is to call or stop by the Douglas County Auditor/Elections Office at the courthouse, (320) 762-3077.
Residents should find out now which jurisdiction they are in and who their choices are for local and state elections. Those who wait until the day before the election to start doing their homework will flunk the test as informed voters.
Now is also a good time to take note of the Echo Press’ paid political letter policy, which is now in effect.
All letters to the editor that endorse a political candidate or party will be charged 10-cents per word and must be paid for in advance. The maximum word limit is 200 words. As always, all letters must be signed and include an address and phone number for verification purposes.
The newspaper enacted its paid political letter policy years ago as a way of handling the flood of letters it receives during the election season. There is simply not enough space to print every letter submitted. Establishing a modest fee for letters that endorse candidates and referendums is fairer than having the newspaper pick which ones to print or randomly drawing them.
Let’s make the most of the time leading up to the primary and general elections by learning about all the candidates (and not just their political party affiliation), how they stand on important issues and whether they’d be a good “fit” for the jurisdiction they want to represent.
Too many elections amount to little more than popularity contests. Residents can change that by becoming more informed, active and involved – not just a couple of days before the election but right now.