BY ELINA KOLSTAD
It may not be a major national election year, but Tuesday, Nov. 2, is still a very important election. If you are new to Minneapolis or haven’t voted in recent years here is some information I hope will get you started.
If you are not currently registered to vote you can quickly and easily register online at the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website (https://mnvotes.sos.state.mn.us/VoterRegistration/VoterRegistrationMain.aspx) or you can register on election day with an ID that has your current name and address on it or a picture ID combined with evidence of residency, such as a utility bill. Fun fact: those who are homeless and those who have a prior criminal record are able to register to vote. For more information you can also call the Secretary of State’s office at (651) 215-1440.
If you’re homeless you must provide your current residence when you vote – this can be a shelter, the house of a friend or, if you sleep outside, a description of the location must be put on line four of your voter registration application. The Minnesota Secretary of State gives the example of, “In the NW corner of Jefferson Park near the intersection of Winston Ave. and Smith St.” If you fill out your application with an outdoor location your ballot will be marked “challenged” which means you will be required to swear under oath that you are living in that location at the polling place on election day. You can also register to vote on election day if you are homeless, but you must be able to prove residency. If you live in a shelter a staff person can go with you to confirm that you live in that shelter or you can go to the polling place with a registered voter from your precinct to sign an oath confirming where you live (https://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/register-to-vote/im-homeless/). You can also call the Secretary of State’s office at (651) 215-1440 for help with this process.
If you have a criminal record you can vote in the following circumstances: you were charged with or convicted of a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor; you are in jail, but are not currently serving a felony sentence; you have been charged with a felony, but you haven’t been convicted; you have been given a stay of adjudication; or you have finished all parts of your felony sentence. Sometimes it can be hard to tell if a felony charge results in a felony conviction – if you are unsure seek legal advice from an attorney. It is best to register before election day, but you can also register to vote on election day. NOTE: You can NOT vote if you are currently serving a felony sentence, or your stay of adjudication was revoked and you are currently serving a felony sentence (https://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/register-to-vote/i-have-a-criminal-record/). You can also call the Secretary of State’s office at (651) 215-1440 for help with this process.
Once you are registered, assuming you do so well before election day, there are many options of how to vote. You can vote early by mail, vote early in person, or vote in person on election day. For more information on all of these options go to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website (https://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/other-ways-to-vote/) or you can call toll free (877) 600-VOTE .