If all that you need to know in voting for Minneapolis school board candidates is that there’s a former city council member on the ballot, or a local resident, a woman, the grown child of a union man, on the ballot...or whatever credential you’re looking for, you actually can cast your vote now for the August 12 primary.
If you want to know more about the candidates before voting, you have a couple weeks to do your homework. It’s important homework to do, because the primary is where the real decisions get made.
Two of the citywide seats are up for election with seven candidates running and one incumbent (Dick Mammen) choosing not to run.
This election will not see the ranked choice voting that was used for Minneapolis council members and mayor, it will be done the old-fashioned way. Who you vote for in the primary helps determine who will be on the November ballot.
Partisan races (in Minneapolis at least) will appear on the front side of the ballot, there are statewide and federal races. Voters have to choose their party: Voting in more than one party will invalidate the ballot.
Non-partisan races will be on the backside of the ballot, this includes the Minneapolis school board, so be sure to turn the ballot over. On the back side, you vote for the person regardless of what you might know about their party affiliation.
Here’s what the City of Minneapolis website says about what’s been called "no excuses" early voting (edited somewhat):
"All voters can choose to vote absentee either by mail or in person. City Hall will be transformed into Minneapolis’ largest polling place, open to all voters who want to come in before Election Day to cast their absentee ballot in person. Because this election marks the first time that all voters are eligible to vote early by absentee ballot without providing a specific reason, we anticipate more voters than ever will choose to vote absentee at their convenience to avoid long lines and waits at the polling place. Plans are in place to transition in-person absentee voting [from Room 201] into the larger rotunda area of City Hall when needed.
Ballots will be mailed out to voters requesting a mail ballot and must be returned to City Hall by the last regular mail delivery on Election Day August 12. In-person absentee voting will be available Monday through Friday, through Aug. 8, from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Extended in-person absentee voting hours will also be available from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on the two Saturdays prior to Election Day, Aug. 2 and 9, and until 5 p.m. on the last day before the election, Mon. Aug. 11.
Seasonal staff is being added to assist both with in-person absentee voters and to handle mail ballots. A particular effort was made to recruit staff with second language skills, and we anticipate having some seasonal staff serving as election judges at City Hall who will be able to assist with interpretation needs. Translated instruction materials will be available in Hmong, Somali, and Spanish, and if desired, voters will be allowed to receive assistance from a person of their choosing when voting.
The Elections website at vote.minneapolismn.gov features updated information for voters. The site features the Your Vote Guide with quick links to help voters check if they are registered, to register online if they are not, to find their polling places and review sample ballots, request absentee ballots and find out the status of their absentee ballots."
Minneapolis 311 is also a valuable resource available to answer questions from voters, and there’s a Your Vote mobile app.
We often, in this editorial column, encourage voters to make a plan for election day to assure that there’s time to vote. To include the whole family in getting registered voters to the polling place, to reach out to neighbors and offer a ride so they can exercise their rights and responsibilities. Let’s amend that to encourage car-pooling for early voting.
As cynical or hopeful as a person might be, about any level of lawmaking or government, the choice of who will execute the public’s trust is the most important thing each citizen can contribute. High voter turnout is the best way to assure good candidates in the future, and accountability from the candidates who are elected.
Vote, by August 12.