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Direct balloting set to start for primary election, and here's a few things you should know

Two voting locations set for Olmsted County for week before Aug. 9 statewide primary election

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"I Voted" stickers at the University of Minnesota Rochester polling location on Election Day Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in downtown Rochester.
Joe Ahlquist/Post Bulletin file photo
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ROCHESTER — Olmsted County direct balloting opportunities for the Aug. 9 Primary Election start Tuesday.

Two polling sites will allow voters the opportunity to feed their ballots into voting machines through Nov. 8. They are at the city-county Government Center, 151 Fourth St. SE, in Rochester, and the Olmsted County Elections Office at 2122 Campus Drive SE in Rochester.

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The direct-voting sites are open to all Olmsted County voters from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays through Aug. 8 and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 6.

Here are a few things to know about voting leading up to the primary:

1. All ballots will have two sides. 

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Ballots throughout the state feature a four-column front, calling for voters to select a single column, based on political party preference.

Since statewide primaries are partisan, voters in the primary are only allowed to vote for candidates in one of four major parties – the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, the Republican Party, the Legal Marijuana Now Party or the Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party.

On the second side of the ballot, voters will find any local nonpartisan primary races, such as the citywide mayor and school board races in Rochester.

The local primaries will narrow the number of candidates to two for the Nov. 8 General Election.

2. Voters in Congressional District 1 will have two decisions to make. 

The backside of the ballot will also include the special election to fill the open Congressional District 1 seat for the remainder of 2022.

The death of Rep. Jim Hagedorn spurred the special election, which is running alongside the regular primary election for filling the seat for 2023 and 2024.

As a result, voters throughout the district that covers Southern Minnesota will select a candidate to fill Hagedorn’s remaining term, as well as a candidate as the selected party’s choice in the Nov. 8 general election.

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3. You can get a sneak peak at your ballot. 

Population shifts reported in the 2020 U.S. Census has led to redrawing district and ward boundaries on the state and local levels.

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Updated Rochester ward boundaries are seen on a map adopted by the Rochester City Council in 2022.
City of Rochester

As a result, some voters moved into new districts or city wards, which could affect what’s on their ballots.

Anyone wanting to know ahead of time which races and candidates they will see when voting can find a sample ballot on the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website at myballotmn.sos.state.mn.us/ .

Olmsted County District map adopted 2022.jpg
Updated Olmsted County districts are seen on a map adopted by the Olmsted County Board of Commissioners in April.
Olmsted County

4. You can hear from your candidates on your schedule.

The Post Bulletin has posted a variety of video responses from Rochester and Olmsted County candidates, as well as videos of candidate forums, on its website.

The videos, along with other election-related coverage can be found online at www.postbulletin.com/topics/election-2022.

5. Your Election Day polling place might have changed. 

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The redefined districts and city wards also created the need to redraw precinct lines, which dictate where a voter goes to cast a ballot on Election Day.

Registered voters were sent postcards with their polling location, but anyone who did not receive can find their polling location on the Minnesota Secretary of State's website at https://pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us/ .

6. It’s not too late to register. 

While the 21-day period to register online or by mail for the August 9 primary election and special election has passed, voters can register in person on Election Day.

Voters can also register from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Olmsted County Elections Office or on Aug. 6 during the direct-voting period at the Elections Office or Government Center.

Information on what you need to bring can be found on the Minnesota Secretary of State website , and voters must be at least 18 years old on Election Day.

7. It is too late to change a vote.

The start of direct balloting means the Olmsted County ballot board is also starting to open submitted absentee ballots for processing.

As a result, it’s too late to have a replacement ballot issued for anyone who has already submitted an absentee ballot.

8. Absentee voting remains an option

Any voters who requested absentee ballots but have not submitted them can still mail them or drop them off at designated collection sites to avoid crowds on Election Day.

Absentee ballots must be received by Election Day in order to be counted, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website

Randy Petersen joined the Post Bulletin in 2014 and became the local government reporter in 2017. An Elkton native, he's worked for a variety of Midwest papers as reporter, photographer and editor since graduating from Winona State University in 1996. Readers can reach Randy at 507-285-7709 or rpetersen@postbulletin.com.
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