Minnesota voters must know where to go before casting primary ballots

Minnesota voters must know where to go before casting primary ballots

Minnesota voters will be casting ballots for members of Congress, all state constitutional offices, state senators and representatives and many local officials. All Minnesotans will have primary elections on Tuesday, August 9. 

Primary elections winnow the field of candidates prior to a general election. Some primaries are held as parties select a general election candidate. For nonpartisan offices, primaries narrow the field to a few candidates for November. 

But don’t head to that old familiar polling place without doing a quick check first. Minnesota earlier this year went through redistricting. Redistricting is a process that uses U.S. Census data to shape everything from city council wards to Congressional districts. 

Residents of small communities may not see a change in where to vote or in which office to vote for at the local level. But larger communities likely had changes that put voters in a different ward or district than they were in for the previous election. 

Congressional and state legislative district lines all had changes. 

The quickest way to check on polling places and candidates on one’s ballot is to go to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office website and look for the poll finder. It allows voters to find their polling places and other information, by zip code, county and address. 

Candidate information is also posted there as soon as it becomes available. Minnesotans statewide will vote for candidates for statewide offices in a primary. Local candidates will vary by location. 

The information has been updated since statewide redistricting was completed this spring. Go to https://pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us/ to find out where to vote. 

Polling places can change with redistricting, with the move of district lines. Election officials like to avoid having polling places for one area that are outside of that area. They also hope to avoid combining polling places and dealing with overcrowding during busy elections. 

Polling places can also be changed if a place no longer is available to host elections. One example is if a building is sold and used for a different purpose between elections. A church used for voting may close, for example, and have its building sold for a private use. 

In some communities, public facilities long used to host polling places are no longer available for security reasons. 

Not only is it important for people to find if a polling place has changed, that polling place also should be looked at with a careful eye to see how accessible it is. Despite the best efforts of local election officials, details can be missed. 

Even a small lip on a doorway or doorway width can create a barrier. Learn more about polling place accessibility and how to report access problems at https://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/election-day-voting/polling-place-accessibility/