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E-Democracy.org – Project Blog

Voting Information for Ramsey County and St. Paul, Minnesota

Written by Steven Clift
For our participants in Ramsey County, E-Democracy Board Member Anne Carroll has compiled a special collection of voter resources from official sources. As Anne says, “Go Vote!”

This year Election Day is Tuesday, November 6. Below is information on a variety of topics to help you, family members, friends, and neighbors have all the information needed to vote on Tuesday. Sources include the Minnesota Secretary of State and Ramsey County Elections.

 

Eligibility to Vote                                                                                                    

You can vote in Ramsey County if on Election Day you:

·         will be at least 18 years old

·         are a citizen of the United States

·         are a Minnesota resident for 20 days immediately preceding Election Day

·         are a resident of Ramsey County and the precinct in which you wish to vote

·         are not under court-ordered guardianship in which the court revokes your right to vote

·         are not found by a court to be legally incompetent to vote

·         have the right to vote because, if you have been convicted of a felony, your felony sentence has expired (been completed) or you have been discharged from your sentence

What’s on the Ballot?

Elections for different offices and ballot issues vary by year. See Find Your Polling Place and Sample Ballot to print out a sample showing exactly what will be on your ballot. This year the following will be on the ballot in Saint Paul (which is in Ramsey County):

Federal

·         President and Vice President: 4-year term

·         U.S. Senate: Minnesota has 2 US Senators, Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, both serving the entire state; they serve 6-year terms; one of our two Senate seats is on the ballot this year; the other will be on the ballot in 2014

·         U.S. House: Minnesota has 8 members of the US Representatives, each serving a different region of the state; they serve 2-year terms

State

·         Minnesota Senate: Although Minnesota senators typically serve four-year terms, they are elected to a two-year term during the first election of the decade. This allows for legislative elections to fall shortly after redistricting is completed. Since Minnesota Senate terms are not staggered, all 67 will be on the ballot.

·         Minnesota House: All 134 members of the Minnesota House are up for election this year; they serve 2-year terms.

·         Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice and two Associate Justices: all contested

·         Minnesota State Court of Appeals: 2 seats, neither contested

·         Second Judicial District Court judges: 12 seats, none contested

·         Two proposed amendments to the Minnesota Constitution: one on the definition of marriage and one on voter identification

·         Conservation district supervisors for two districts

·         In St Paul, a referendum for St. Paul Public Schools; this is on the back of the ballot, so make sure to turn it over

Where to Vote

Your polling place is located near your home. To find your polling place, Find Your Polling Place and Sample Ballot.

Register to Vote

Before you can vote, you must register. You may register before Election Day, or on Election Day at your polling place. Your registration remains current until you move, change your name, or do not vote for four consecutive years. More Voter Registration Information.

Here is a link to the voter registration form. Save yourself time at your polling place by completing this in advance; if you have additional questions you can ask at your polling place.

Assistance or Accessibility

·         If you need assistance with voting, you can ask the election judges at the polling place. You can also ask a relative, friend, or neighbor to help you.

·         All polling places in Ramsey County are fully accessible to elderly and disabled voters, with clearly marked accessible doors and parking spaces. Each polling place will be equipped with an accessible voting device for use by persons with disabilities.

·         If you can’t easily leave your car, you can ask for the ballot to be brought out to you in your car.

·         If you are confined due to illness or disability, you can vote by absentee ballot.

·         If you have limited vision, we can provide you with voter registration and absentee ballot instructions in large print, on cassette tape, in Braille, or by TDD.

Problems at the polls

If you see or experience anything that concerns or frightens you at your polling place, Ramsey County Elections Manager Joe Mansky advises you to immediately let the head judge at the polling place know about any problems that are occurring. If this is not having the desired effect, you can then contact the Elections Office at 651-266-2171 or at elections@co.ramsey.mn.us. Please provide as much detail as possible to either the head judges or Ramsey County staff.

Campaign literature on Election Day

According to Ramsey County Elections Manager Joe Mansky, it is legal to provide voters with campaign materials on election day and voters may use these materials in the polling place to help them vote. However, these materials may not be distributed or displayed in the polling place, nor can they be distributed within 100 feet of the building in which a polling place is located and if it’s a public building, the distribution of these materials cannot take place on the public property on which the building is located. (See Minn. Stat. § 211B.11, subd 1.)

Voting for Those With Special Circumstances

·         Voting for Students

·         Voting When You Are in the Hospital

·         Voting for People Living in Residential Facilities

·         Voting When Civil Rights Are Restored

·         Voting When Your Home Is in Foreclosure

·         Voting When You Are Homeless

·         Voting for People Under Guardianship

·         Voting Instructions for Those Who Fear for Their Safety

·         Assistance with Voting

Voting When You Are Homeless

Voters must include their current residence on their voter registration application. Residence is considered to be the place where you sleep, so if you sleep in a shelter, at a friend’s residence, or under a bridge, this is your residence. If your residence is a place where the post office will not deliver mail to you, then you should include your mailing address on the registration form, if you have one.

If you pre-register and do not have a mailing address, then your record will be flagged as “challenged” and you will have to answer some questions before being allowed to vote. You will be challenged because the county would not have been able to verify your address prior to the election. The election judge will ask you about where you live and you will have to swear that you are eligible to vote before you will be given a ballot.

Homeless individuals who have not pre-registered to vote often have difficulty providing proper proof of residence, as is required to complete Election Day registration. As such, the law makes special accommodations for those who are staying at homeless shelters. In this case, employees of the shelter are allowed to “vouch” for the homeless individual, meaning that the employee signs a sworn statement that they personally know that the homeless individual resides at the shelter.

Voting When Civil Rights Are Restored (persons with a felony conviction)

In Minnesota, you cannot vote while serving a sentence as a result of a felony conviction. However, once the full sentence is completed — including parole and probation — commonly called “off paper,” the right to vote is automatically restored.

·         If you reside in Minnesota and are “off paper,” you can vote. This is true even if your felony conviction was in another state.

·         Do not register to vote before you have completed your sentence, even if you will be “off paper” by Election Day. It is a felony to register if your rights have not been restored.

·         In Minnesota you can register to vote on Election Day if you have not pre-registered.

·         Even if you are “off paper,” the county elections office may not have been notified that your civil rights have been restored. In this case, there may be a note on the list of voters at the polling place directing the election judge to challenge your eligibility to vote. If so, explain that you have completed your sentence and your civil rights have been restored. The election judge may require you to swear an oath that your rights have been restored, before allowing you to vote.

Read more about voter registration on our Registering to Vote page. Download the fact sheet When Civil Rights Are Restored (pdf)

Can I vote if I am in Foreclosure?

You cannot be denied the right to vote due to the fact that you are in a mortgage foreclosure process. Ramsey County residents who are involved in a foreclosure proceeding can still vote.  Just because a home is in foreclosure it does not mean that the owner no longer lives there. The owner still has rights to the property for a period of time during foreclosure and may continue to live in the home for at least six months after the sheriff’s sale. As long as you are living in your house, you can claim it as your residence, even if it is in foreclosure.

State law requires that anyone challenging an owner’s eligibility to vote must have personal knowledge that the individual is not eligible to vote – that he or she does not live in the precinct and has vacated the residence (through either a voluntary move or eviction proceeding) and does not intend to return.

An owner who has vacated the property in foreclosure with no intention of returning cannot vote from that address. Instead, that person must vote in the precinct of current residence, whether it is the home of a friend or relative, a homeless shelter, etc., as long the person has resided in Minnesota for 20 days.

For more information, go to the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State or call 1-877-600-VOTE (8683).

Absentee Voting

Absentee Ballot Applications

You can vote by absentee ballot if you are unable to vote in person on Election Day because you are:

·         away from your precinct on Election Day

·         have an illness or disability that prevents you from voting at your polling place

·         unable to vote on Election Day due to religious observance

·         serving as an election judge in a precinct other than your own

·         under an eligible emergency declared by the governor or quarantine declared by the federal or state government

All absentee ballots must arrive at Ramsey County Elections no later than 3:00pm on Election Day.

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