Primary elections are just around the cornerWith the exception of deciding for whom to vote, this year’s Aug. 14 primary elections are unlikely to pose a challenge for voters.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
With the exception of deciding for whom to vote, this year’s Aug. 14 primary elections are unlikely to pose a challenge for voters. There are no referendum questions and relatively few races in this year’s primary. In fact, there are no city, school or township races even listed on the ballot in Carlton County, just state- and national-level races.
Polling locations in Carlton County are unchanged from two years ago, with the exception of Eagle Township, which will now vote in the Cromwell Sno-Gophers building on Highway 73 instead of at the school.
Some voters in Cloquet will have a new polling site, however, because of changes in the city’s ward boundaries, Carlton County Auditor Paul Gassert said, explaining that residents who live between Prospect and Doddridge avenues between 14th Street and the former bowling alley are now residents of Ward 3 rather than Ward 1.
“Those folks we had shown as registered in that area got a notice in the mail,” Gassert said. “But even if someone does show up to the wrong polling place, the election judges will know where to send them.”
As far as the physical act of voting goes, the trickiest part (besides deciding who to vote for) will be remembering to vote both sides of the ballot.
“The front [of the ballot] is a narrowing of the fields for the major parties, to one candidate each,” Gassert said, noting that only the DFL, Republican and Independence parties have achieved major party status in the state. “On the back are the judicial elections with three candidates each, which need to be narrowed to two.”
The most contested election on the primary ballot for Carlton County will certainly be the DFL race for the Minnesota House of Representatives District 11A, a new district which includes all of Carlton County, plus Brevator, Culver, Stoneybrook and Arrowhead townships in St. Louis County and Windemere and Kerrick townships in Pine County.
Those who vote Democratic-Farmer-Labor party in the primary will choose which District 11A candidate – Bruce Ahlgren or Mike Sundin – to send to the general election in November. Although Republican candidate Jim Putnam and Independence Party candidate Cory Pylkka are also listed on the ballot, both are unopposed and will automatically move on to November.
All three parties have multiple candidates for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Klobuchar is one of four candidates on the DFL ballot, which also includes Jack Edward Shephard, “Dick” Franson and Darryl Stanton. Republican Party candidates for U.S. Senate are David Carlson, Bob Carney Jr. and Kurt Bills, while Independence Party candidates are Stephen Williams and Glen R. Anderson Menze.
Three DFL candidates – Tarryl Clark, Jeff Anderson and Richard Nolan – are running for the U.S. Representative District 8 seat held by Republican Chip Cravaack. (Look for a story on that race in next week’s Pine Journal.)
Two nonpartisan judicial races are listed on the back of the ballot. Voters are asked to vote for one candidate each for Chief Justice Supreme Court – Lorie Skjerven Gildea (incumbent), Jill Clark, Dan Griffith – and Associate Justice 4, including Alan Nelson, Tim Tingelstad and incumbent David Stras.
Gassert said voters can register at the polls on Aug. 14; however, the deadline to preregister was July 24. To register at the polls, a prospective voter needs a Minnesota driver’s license or Minnesota ID card with current address, or a tribal ID card (including Fond du Lac photo ID cards). He said a college ID card is not currently allowed.
Given the relatively small number of races on the ballot, Gassert isn’t expecting a huge turnout.
“The only really local issue is the Ahlgren and Sundin race,” he said. “I think we’ll be lucky to break 20 or 25 percent.”
You must be registered before you can vote in Minnesota. Unless you change your address, change your name, or fail to vote at least once every four years, your voter registration is permanent. Those who have not registered may do so at the polls on Election Day. You do not need to declare your political party to register to vote. To find out where your polling place is, go to the Secretary of State’s website at pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us or contact the office of Carlton County Auditor/Treasurer Paul Gassert at 218-384-9127. Absentee voting is available through Monday, Aug. 13.