There are only 10 days left before the primary election, which sets the table for a number of local races come November.

If you don't already know how you plan to vote in the primary and haven't already voted (early absentee voting for the Aug. 11 primary began June 26), now's the time to study up.

The first order of business is to know who's running. The best way to accomplish that is to visit the Minnesota Secretary of State's website at There, you can create a sample ballot customized for your street address. For those without internet access, a sample ballot will be printed in the Post Bulletin and be available at all polling locations. Voters can call 507-328-7650 to find out their polling location.

Up until now, voters who cast their ballots early had to mail them or drop them off at the Elections Office, 2122 Campus Drive SE. But beginning Tuesday, early ballots can be cast in person from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the office or at the Government Center, 151 Fourth St. SE.

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Both partisan and non-partisan races are on the ballot.

In partisan races, you must select candidates from only one of the four major parties. For example, you cannot vote for a Republican in one race and a Democrat in another. Remember to look at both sides of the ballot, since partisan races are continued on both sides.

In Rochester, local primary races include three candidates for City Council President, three candidates in Ward 2, four in Ward 4, and six in Ward 6. There are also three candidates for Olmsted County Board District 5.

Interest in the campaign has been high, according to Kathryn Smith, Olmsted County's election manager. "We have already sent out over 24,000 ballots and received back over 9,000 ballots."

For information about the candidates, Post Bulletin reporter Randy Petersen has been asking them questions for weeks. Among the topics were homelessness, city budget priorities, and a ballot referendum for park improvements.

Find the candidates' insights, their biographies and videos from recent debates at

Voting, the hallmark of democracy, is important. It is the one place where your voice counts. Everyone's voice deserves to be heard, starting with the primary election.

Not registered to vote?

You can register to vote at the Minnesota Secretary of State website. Or, you can register on Election Day by showing proof of residence, such as a valid Minnesota driver's license, learner's permit or tribal ID. You can also have a registered voter from your precinct vouch for your residence by signing an oath.