Registering at the polls is convenient but takes planning

Registering at the polls is convenient but takes planning

Throughout Minnesota, voters go to the polls November 2. While many people appreciate the convenience of early voting, others like the experience of going to the polls, seeing neighbors and casting a ballot.

For voters with disabilities, voting the day of the election is also a good chance to check out polling places and make sure they are accessible. Reporting polling place access issues can be a great service to other voters. (See related story.)

Several steps should be taken to make sure the voting experience goes smoothly for voters with disabilities. Busy presidential or state elections can mean taking along water to drink or any needed medications as waits to vote can be long. Having a phone or device fully charged is also a good plan.

The long waits may not be the case this year in most communities this year, although polls in St. Paul and Minneapolis may be busy with mayoral elections and ballot questions.

There are other ways to prepare to vote, especially if there is a need to register at the polls.

Minnesota offers the benefit of same-day registration for voters. Voters can register if accompanied to the polling place by someone who is already registered in the precinct. This process is called vouching. But not everyone knows their neighbors.

Being able to register to vote at the polls is a great convenience. Having the correct documentation makes the process go smoothly. The Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office has a helpful information sheet that can be downloaded and used for reference, at https://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/register-to-vote/register-on-election-day/

First-time voters need to register, as do voters who have moved. What sometimes comes up for people with disabilities and elders is if they have moved to a different room or suite in assisted living or a senior building. That requires a changed registration so let the election judges know. Also, if there is name change, let the election judges know.

Election judges need to know identity and residency when voters register at the polls. Register with ID with current name and address, such as a valid Minnesota driver’s license, learner’s permit or ID; or a receipt for any of these. A tribal identification card with name, address, photo and signature may also be used.

Another option is to use a photo ID, which proves identity and a document with the current address, to prove residency. The ID can be expired. Proper forms of ID to take the polls are a driver’s license, state ID or learner’s permit issued by any state; U.S. passport; U.S. military or veteran ID; tribal ID with name, signature and photo; Minnesota university, college or technical college ID or Minnesota high school ID.

An approved document can be shown on an approved device or be a paper document. Documents can include a bill, account or start-of-service statement due or dated within 30 days of the election for phone, TV or internet; solid waste, sewer, electric, gas or water; banking or credit card, or rent or mortgage. Another approved document can be a residential lease or rent agreement valid through Election Day. A current student fee statement can also be used.

Attending college this fall?Colleges and universities may send election officials a student housing list. A student on a list can show a college photo ID to complete registration.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the cancelation of many community festivals where people would be encouraged to register, some voters often register just before an election. Sometimes voters get what is called a “notice of late registration” if registry was made within 20 days of the election. Bring that notice to the polling place and use it as proof of residence to register before voting.

Elections coverage is provided in cooperation with Ramsey County Elections.