DFL48 | Restoring Common Sense Minnesota Values

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Sep/14

19

September, 2014 Newsletter

What Our Candidates are Doing

Rep. Yvonne Selcer, HD48A

Yvonne_Selcer

As Rep Yvonne Selcer and her team move into these final, crucial weeks of the campaign, they’re working to bring the door knocking and phoning to an even higher level to get out the good news of the work that has been done in the last two years. Yvonne stood up for the people of our community and Minnesotans, passing fiscally responsible legislation that paid our schools back, provided all day kindergarten, froze college tuition, promoted small business job creation and streamlined paperwork.

Even in the midst of this close race, Rep Selcer is also focused on the duties of her position as your state representative. She’s serving on legislative committees throughout the summer to prepare for the work that needs to continue during the next legislative session.

Her record of service and accomplishment, of course, will be distorted by the special interest groups, including the billionaire Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, who are lining up to distort these accomplishments and protect their special interests.

Rep. Selcer and her team thank all those who have helped to date with door knocking, phoning, lawn sign distribution, office work and a variety of other important campaign tasks.

These last weeks leading up to Nov 4 are crucial to victory. Yvonne asks if you have volunteered, to keep volunteering.  If you have not yet had the opportunity to volunteer, please do so in the crucial coming weeks.  You can sign up to volunteer at yvonneselcer.com, or just call Maars, her organizer at 612-524-8427, and he will get you involved.

“Together, we can win again on Nov 4, and continue the work we have begun to move MN forward,” said Rep Selcer.  “Thanks to all of you for the many ways in which you are supporting this effort.”

Joan Howe-Pullis, HD48B Candidate

joan-440-300x285

At their Campaign Head-quarters, things are gearing up for the rundown to Election Day.

Joan is out at the doors most days. When she’s not, she’s phoning the people of Eden Prairie.

If you’d like to help, phone banks and door knocks are being staged out of Eden Prairie. So, no long driving to pick up lit packets or getting to a phone bank and not having material to make calls.

Team Joan is also pulling together the details of what’s shaping up to be a great lit drop/door knock next month, so look for more information on it soon.

If you have time to help with any aspect of Joan’s race, send her an e-mail at info@joanhowepullis.com.

Laurie McKendry, SD48

laurie-mckendryEven though the focus between now and Election Day is on our House seats and Laurie continues to help Yvonne and Joan, things are gearing up for the 2015-2016 election cycle when Laurie will be making a second run for the State Senate.

If you’re interested in seeing what a full campaign election cycle involves, we’ll be picking up our planning efforts in late November. E-mail teammckendry@gmail.com to become part of Team McKendry.

 

Can You Host a Lawn Sign?

img-yard-signs-2014

Selcer SignOur candidates are hoping to build visibility with lawn signs.

If you’re willing to have one in Joan_Howe-Pullis_logo-color-twotonebackground-400wyour yard between now and Election Day, please e-mail us at info@dfl48.org. We’ll pass your information along to our candidates.

 

League of Women Voters Candidate Forums

Again this year the League of Women Voters is hosting candidate forums for both our State House races and our Eden Prairie municipal races.

Please mark your calendar now and plan to attend. Not only will you learn more about the candidates and issue, your attendance helps support our candidates.

State House Forum

The State House Candidate Forum will be held Tuesday, September 30, from 7:00 to 8:30 pm in the Council Chambers at the Minnetonka Community Center, 14600 Minnetonka Blvd., Minnetonka, MN. Doors open at 6:30 pm.

Eden Prairie Municipal Forum

The forum for candidates running for Eden Prairie City Council will be held Thursday, October 2, 7:00 to 8:30 pm in the Council Chambers at the Eden Prairie Community Center, 8080 Mitchell Rd, Eden Prairie, MN. Doors open at 6:30 pm.

continued in next column
 There are two seats up for election this year. They are currently held by Kathy Nelson and Sherry Butcher-Wickstrom. Andrew Moller has also filed to run one of these seats. We could find no website for his campaign.

The top two vote getters on Election Day will be on the Eden Prairie City Council. So, if you’re a resident of this city, please attend.

Eden Prairie Mayor Nancy Tyra-Lukens is running unopposed.

Our DFL Ticket

To see who else is on the ballot, visit this post. We’ve also included information on the Eden Prairie City Council seats up for election this year and information on the judicial races we’ll have on the ballot.

Have Holasek Certificates Left Over from Our Grow with Us Plant Sale?

DFL48_grow-with-us_logo-400w

2015 UPDATE:  Holasek Greenhouses is now out of business. We have no information on how to receive refunds. Please contact the organization you purchased your certificates from for further information.

We’ve been informed that Holasek Greenhouses will be going out of business this year. If you didn’t use all your certificates this spring and summer, you have a limited time to receive a full refund. Please e-mail us at info@dfl48.org. We’ll contact you with the details, but please do it by September 30. Holasek’s will be closing their books for good in October, 2014.

 

Not Certain if You’re Registered to Vote?

This year, you can visit the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website to:

If you’d prefer to register in person, you can go to the City Clerk’s office at your municipality’s City Center and fill out the form there.

When Democrats vote, Democrats win. Get the pieces in place now to make voting simpler November 4.

 

Your Candidates Need Your Help Now

We’re over half way through September, the Fall routine should be established in your household. Your candidates and their volunteers have been working hard for months. But, there’s so much more to do.  (You’d be amazed how BIG a House District is, how many doors there are to visit.)

Support Your Candidates By:

Door knocking and phone calling are the big needs at this point in campaigns. If you’re comfortable doing that, please volunteer. Our candidates have included contact information in their articles.

If you’re not, there are still lots you can do:

  • Make a contribution to one of our local races or to SD48 DFL if you haven’t yet
    • your first $50 contributed to a state campaign or party unit is refunded by the State of Minnesota to help make it possible for regular people to run
  • Have some time on upcoming weekends or week days?
    • Help set up lawn signs
    • Help enter information
    • Help write a letter to the editor
    • Help feed volunteers
    • Got other ideas? Let us know, and we’ll “hook you up.”

You’ll meet a great group of people, and help create change in our district with your time  (It’s also a great thing for families to do.) Need to get connected?  Email us at info@dfl48.org. We’ll get you in touch with the right people.

 

When Dems Vote, Dems Win

Why?

We have the numbers to elect the people who are putting all their efforts into running for office if we just bother to vote.

No Excuse Absentee Voting

This year, you can go to your municipal community center and cast an early, no excuse absentee ballot from September 19 until the weekend before the election (check out your city’s website for hours on weekends). Just stop into your City Clerk’s office, complete the paperwork and fill out your ballot.

What happens when we don’t?

Remember 2010? That’s the last non-presidential election. We wound up with a Republican-controlled Legislature. That Legislature shut down our government for the longest time in our state’s history costing us tens of millions of dollars. It also brought us the two constitutional amendments that so divided our city.

And, when you vote between September 19 and November 4, help make certain our candidates win by bringing a progressive friend with you to the polls.

Remember, when Democrats vote Democrats win.

Town Hall Forum with Hennepin County Sherif Candidate Eddie Frizell

frizellTeam Frizell invites you to a discussion regarding public safety and how Eddie would lead the department as the County’s new Sheriff.

– Share how you would like to see the Sheriff’s office engaged with your community

– Discuss the duties of the Sheriff’s office

– Learn more about the $91.9 million Sheriff’s budget

– Hear Eddie’s priorities for the Sheriff’s office.

This event is not affiliated with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office in any way. For official business with the Sheriff’s Office, please call 612.348.2347.

RSVP at facebook.com/frizellforsheriff/events or by e-mail to jesse@frizellforsheriff.com.

 

The Party Party

2014-09-06 06.30.55We had a great time at our Party Party earlier this month.

Check out more info about the event including more photos here.

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What Our Candidates are Doing

Rep. Yvonne Selcer, HD48A

Yvonne_SelcerThe campaign is pleased to announce that Maars Beltrandy is now onboard as Yvonne’s Field Organizer. If you’re interested in helping reach out to voters in HD48A, please get in touch with him. You can call him on his cell at 612.524.8427, or by e-mail at maars@dflhouse.com.

Rep. Selcer is still busy reaching out to her constituents with regular door knocks Saturday mornings from 9:30 am to 2:00 pm and Thursday afternoons from 5:00 to 8:30 pm. There are phone banks Wednesday from 5:30 to 8:30 pm and Sunday evenings from 5:00 to 8:00 pm. Maars can schedule you in for either activity.

Joan Howe-Pullis, HD48B Candidate

joan-440-300x285Since her endorsement, Joan has been building her campaign team. Things are well underway with a strong and growing group of volunteers.

She’s also working hard to raise the funds she needs to communicate with the voting public, and has had strong success.

Joan also been out 6 days a week. She’s reached over 2,000 doors already and has an aggressive goal of reaching 10,000 by Election Day. Her message of a government that works and cooperative problem solving is resonating with the voters in her district. And, her daily message of empowering conversations and daily debriefs with volunteers is inspiring to watch. The SD48 candidate, Laurie McKendry is door knocking with Joan weekly.

The campaign held it’s first phone bank June 7 with 11 volunteers making calls. They expect to have at least that many on upcoming phone banks.

Their website is up and running, and while they’ll continue to tweak content and design, contributions can be made on her website.

They also have their Facebook page and Twitter feed up and running, so please like Joan’s page and follow her on Twitter.

There is much to do and little time to do it. The campaign could use your help. If you’re able to help, please contact them at info@joanhowepullis.com. They’ll be in touch to find out how you’d like to help be it campaign leadership, helping with communications, voter contact, putting up lawn signs or helping with a letter to the editor.

“This is a winnable race, and winning will be the reward of a lifetime for all who contribute to the work of this campaign,” said John Pullis, Joan’s Campaign Manager.

Laurie McKendry, SD48

laurie-mckendryThis year’s election is for Minnesota House. Even though Laurie McKendry’s election won’t take place until 2016, she and her campaign are dedicated to working to help our Senate District 48 Minnesota House candidates. Laurie’s goal is to help re-elect Yvonne Selcer and elect Joan Howe-Pullis.

Laurie McKendry is out door knocking with both Rep. Yvonne Selcer (HD48A) and Joan Howe-Pullis (HD48B).

Laurie is also continuing to work on her Masters Degree.

Did You Lose Any Plants in the Deluge or Haven’t Got Your Summer Plants In?

DFL48_grow-with-us_logo-400w

2015 UPDATE:  Holasek Greenhouses is now out of business. We have no information on how to receive refunds. Please contact the organization you purchased your certificates from for further information.

If you lost plants in our June downpours or have yet to get your gardens and pots, we’re continuing our “Grow with Us” plant sale. You’ll purchase certificates good at the Holasek Greenhouse in Chaska or the Great Gardens by Grandma outlets at several locations in our district or nearby.

A portion of the proceeds go to support our district and that means we have a better ability to support our candidates. So, visit our sale page now and make your purchase.

We’ll be at Round Lake Park July 4th

If you will be, stop by and say hello

2013 SD48 Book

Again this year, SD48 DFL will have a booth at Eden Prairie’s Round Lake Park (southwest corner of Eden Prairie Road and Valley View Road) for Eden Prairie’s Home Town Celebration.

We’ll have fun for the kids while mom and dad talk politics.

Our candidates will be with us

We’re pleased to announce that we will be joined by:

  • Rep. Yvonne Selcer (HD48A)
  • Joan Howe-Pullis (HD48B)
  • Laurie McKendry (SD48)

Early voting for the primary begins Friday

check-mark110x110As DFLers, we do have a primary race on this year’s ballot with the last-minute registration of Matt Entenza for the State Auditor position. He’s running against DFL-endorsed and incumbent Rebecca Otto. Rebecca has been doing a great job, receiving federal awards. So, your vote is needed on August 12.

Want to vote in the August 12 primary but have plans to be away from home that day? Thanks to no excuse absentee balloting, voting in Minnesota is now easy as 1, 2, 3 – and early voting for the August 12 primary opens Friday.

  1. Request an absentee ballot online from the Minnesota Secretary of State and election officials will mail the absentee ballot materials to you after receiving your application.
  2. Fill out the absentee ballot. You’ll be asked to have a registered voter or notary verify that you received a blank ballot and you were the person to vote.
  3. Return the absentee ballot via mail or drop it off in person at your city or county election office up to the day before the election.

You can request, receive and cast an absentee ballot in one visit to your county election office. Some cities and towns also provide ballots at their offices. Beginning Friday, you can cast your vote for the August 12 primary:

  • Monday – Friday during normal business hours
  • The last Saturday before Election Day – Aug. 9 – from 10 am to 3 pm
  • Aug. 11 until 5 pm

If you are not registered to vote, you will need to complete a voter registration form and show proof of residence at the election office.

Remember, voting opens this month, June 27, for the August 12 primary election. There’s no excuse not to vote in 2014! Cast your vote to support our DFL-endorsed candidates.

Minnesota gains 154,300 new jobs

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has released new jobs numbers for the month of May. Highlights include:

  • 10,300 – Minnesota gained 10,300 new jobs in May.
  • 154,300 – Since January 2011, the state has gained 154,300 jobs – regaining all the jobs that were lost during the Great Recession, and adding thousands more.
  • 7 years – At 4.6%, Minnesota’s unemployment rate is at its lowest point since 2007 (seven years ago).
  • 2.8 million – Current employment in Minnesota stands at 2,817,000; that means there are more jobs in Minnesota than ever before.
  • 2.4 million – For the first time in state history, Minnesota’s private sector employment has surpassed 2.4 million jobs.

For more information about the report, click here. The news follows the recent announcements of several new business expansions across Minnesota, including:

  • maurices in Duluth – This new $70 million office tower is the largest commercial development project in the history of downtown Duluth. It will create and retain 900 jobs and leverage $50 million in private investment.
  • Cardiovascular Systems in New Brighton – Medical device manufacturer Cardiovascular Systems Inc. announced plans last week to build a $30 million headquarters in New Brighton and expand its workforce with 205 new, high-paying jobs within two years.
  • Daikin in Owatonna – Plymouth-based Daikin Applied Americas Inc. announced plans this week for a $9 million expansion project that will create 40 jobs at its manufacturing facility in Owatonna.

Flood response efforts

Recently, Gov. Dayton’s focus has been on the many Minnesotans whose homes, businesses, and farms have been impacted by the ongoing flooding and severe weather across the state. Last week, the Governor:

Minnesota’s Emergency Operations Center was activated several days ago to coordinate the state’s response to ongoing severe weather events, and to provide assistance to local first responders. Check the Department of Public Safety’s news center for more updates on ongoing severe weather, and the state’s continuing response efforts.

Minnesota Chambers and Republican at Odds Over SWLRT

This may be a first, because historically the Chamber and the Republican Party have always been in lock-step. The best way to begin to characterize what is a philosophical/political versus reality problem is to clarify that the Republicans do not support rail (public transit), but they do support the SWT (Southwest Transit Bus) and the airlines. These are all public transit. Any transportation that provides scheduled service and receives federal and state funding is considered public transportation

Minnesota Finance and Commerce Magazine had this to say, “Despite Republican legislative leaders’ opposition to dedicating $25 million in bonding money this year to the proposed Southwest light rail transit line, leaders from three local chambers of commerce lined up this week at the Capitol to express their support for the LRT….”

MnDOT reports that 50 percent of the state’s highway pavements and 35 percent of its bridges are more than 50 years old, and says the highway system faces a $12 billion funding gap over the next 20 years. You can’t miss the construction projects all over the Twin Cities, road resurfacing, highway round-abouts and overheads, new highway exits and entrances, bridge construction and renovation that make getting there safer.

Rail is cheaper than asphalt roads. And though the price tag for the SWLRT project appears high, where’s the context? Who’s done their homework and compared it to the cost of installing the same capacity for roads? When you factor in the cost of a vehicle, gasoline, insurance, the environmental impact, road maintenance, the fact is that rail creates more capacity than roads would ever be able to handle, unless existing homes and businesses are taken through eminent domain, or we figure out how to levitate ton weight vehicles on highways-in-the-sky? Not in this lifetime. Nobody rides or drives for free, but rail offers an alternative that would be less expensive for many Minnesotans.

Republicans don’t want transportation dollars diverted to a multi-modal alternative like rail.

Here’s a sampling of Republicans who oppose LRT in Minnesota.

Robert “Again” Carney, a Republican running for Hennepin County Commissioner this year, is a roadie who believes the only solution to our transportation woes is lots more small buses.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Marty Seifert is “calling on Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, city officials and the Metropolitan Council to end closed-door mediation sessions and vote against the proposed Southwest Light Rail.”

Back in 2012, Representative Mike Beard (a Republican) sought to strip the Metropolitan Council of its powers over transportation. According to Minnpost, the plan was to create multiple boards and commissions to do the work now performed by one agency, the Met Council. The politicization would likely add more government interference rather than a decision making non-partisan agency like the Metropolitan Council, that has met directly with the community groups and elected officials.

House District 48B Representative Jenifer Loon’s (R) strong opposition to the SWLRT project came through in a letter she wrote to the Eden Prairie City Council asking them not to support the project without a final EIS. Loon’s objections included traffic disruption. (Note that Loon did not mention a traffic disruption problem during construction of the 494/169 highway project.) She also offered an amendment in the state legislature that requires legislative oversight of the Metropolitan Council’s authority to use state funds for expenditures on LRT projects specifically.

Loon contends that the LRT project has not had the oversight of elected officials, i.e. the legislature, nor the transparency the Legislature would provide. In fact the Metropolitan Council held extensive meetings with the public and elected local officials of city’s directly impacted by the project, for decades. None of these meetings had a political agenda. We keep hearing from Republicans that local governing bodies are in the best position to make decisions about their community. That’s exactly what has taken place, but now Republicans at the legislature have decided, because they want control over a project they don’t like, that they can interfere with local government decision making.

Businesses, transportation groups, and local chambers support LRT

According to Margaret Donahoe of the Minnesota Transportation Alliance who traveled to DC in June, Congress should “stop kicking the can down the road” with short term fixes, but approve the new, multi-year transportation law.”

Matt Kramer, president and CEO, St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce said, “Roads and bridges are as important as bus and rail, and the Met Council can play an important role in advocating for a balanced mix for the east metro and for the Twin Cities as a whole. Candidates should understand the value of a ‘hub’ when advocating for multi-modal transportation solutions.”

Charlie Weaver, Executive Director, Minnesota Business Partnership said, “Appoint members who are able to focus on the priorities of the region as a whole rather than the desires of individual communities. Focus on few things and do them well: a well-run park system, functioning sewers and making sure the trains and buses run on time. Avoid partisan politics; work closely with your local partners; and don’t try to do everything for everyone. The Met Council is unique in the nation. It is a system that has worked well precisely because past chairmen and council members have taken a regional approach to metropolitan development and done so on a non-partisan basis.”

In 2012, Minnesota’s three largest Chambers of Commerce, the Minneapolis Regional, the St. Paul Area, and TwinWest, who support the business community jointly published a press release supporting Southwest LRT in the bonding bill.

“As the economy edges toward improvement, major Twin City’s employers will be looking to expand — either in our area or elsewhere, in the coming years,” the statement says, adding that 40 percent of downtown Minneapolis employees rely on transit to get to work. “We want to keep businesses growing here and that means making critical transit investments now.”

Rail helps create capacity that roads can’t support 

TwinCities West Chamber and its affiliates support SWLRT because they believe it provides access to businesses and employees that roads can’t. Access supports job growth; mitigates congestion; creates regional and state competitiveness, and provides for economic development. The TwinCities West Chamber is aligned with the Southwest Transit Alliance and the business community in support of SWLRT.

The SWLRT is a regional solution to a getting-there problem. It’s also a NIMBY problem because the rail line goes through different communities with differences of opinion about where, how much, and why we need rail in the first place, since we already have roads and bus service.

Creating more highway lanes to accommodate growth would be unfeasible from an economic and environmental stand-point. All options were considered in determining the feasibility of every mode of ground transportation and the result was that the most cost effective solution, in terms of future growth, must include multi-modal transportation that includes rail. The research for the SWLRT project was submitted to the federal government and like other forms of getting-there e.g. road and air transport, all each receive federal, state, and county funding.

However, truth-be-told dedicated taxes, toll roads, and the gas tax have paid for only a small portion of our nation’s road system. In the past century, road and air transportation have received much more government funding than rail.

MNGOP’s opposition to the SWLRT as stated in their most recent party platform, aligns with a letter written by Jenifer Loon to the city of Eden Prairie and a legislative amendment she authored that would alter the Metropolitan Council’s authority and require all LRT projects be approved by the Legislature. Loon takes it a step further, as does MNGOP in their party platform, to actually eliminate Minnesota’s Metropolitan Council, which has been a regional planning policy-making body, planning agency, and provider of essential services since 1967, including working with other agencies in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Region on transportation, wastewater, regional housing, redevelopment authority, plans and funds for parks and trails. The Met Council is granted regional authority powers through state statutes by the Minnesota Legislature, which includes taxing authority.

The latest local actions taken on SWLRT Consent

The Eden Prairie Council took no action on the SWLRT project at their last meeting June 17th.  The council had several options to move on a vote of municipal consent, which meant the city consents to the current physical design only, and nothing else. The city’s lawyer Rick Rosow told council members that they had the option of approving with a list of items not in the design plan. There was also the option of disapproving with proposed amendments, approval with conditions, or the option of voting against the project.

Mayor Nancy Tyra-Lukens proposed the vote on the SWLRT project be delayed to July 15 after the MOU, Memorandum of Understanding, between the SWT (Southwest Transit) and the SWLRT (Southwest Light Rail) is finalized. Issues of importance related to the MOU that were cited at the council meeting by the Mayor were as follows:

•Protecting existing bus service
•Adequate parking
•Disruption of service during construction

At the City Council meeting on June 17, Council Member Brad Aho brought up the lack of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which he believes should delay the city’s consent of the project. Both Aho and Loon are against the project and don’t want the city to give consent.

The city’s lawyer explained during the meeting that giving “Municipal Consent, per state law, relates only to local governments approving the physical design components of the LRT project, not the environmental impacts. The city can come back and question the DEIS or draft EIS, before a final SDEIS, supplemental EIS is finalized and available for public comment. This is how it works with all infrastructure projects, such as the Flying Cloud Airport expansion, and the 494/169 project.

The simple answer to why MNGOP and Representative Loon want to eliminate the Metropolitan Council is because the Metropolitan Council has the authority from the Minnesota Legislature to tax. At some point-in-time, a gas tax may have to be put on the table to fund all transportation projects and that’s why MNGOP is making the SWLRT an election issue in November.

Reference Links

http://finance-commerce.com/ 2012/02/ chambers-go-against-grain-to-push-for-southwest-lrt/

http://seifertforgovernor.com /news/ seifert-calls-minneapolis-and-met-council-stop-sw-light-rail

http://www.minnpost.com/ community-voices/ 2014/04 /hennepin-commissioner -candidate-demand-southwest-lrt-alternatives

http://www.minnpost.com/ politics-policy 2014/06/ federal-highway-trust-fund-running-empty-minnesota-transportation-advocates-

http://www.minnpost.com/ cityscape/ 2012/03/ house-gop-floats-plan-restructure-regional-planning

http://www.twincities.com/ localnews/ci_17061334

http://alankandel.scienceblog.com/ 2014/01/11/ rails-vs-roads-for-value-utilization-emissions-savings-difference-like-night-and-day/

http://www.minnpost.com/ cityscape/ 2014/06/what-if-we-made-transportation-systems-regulated-public-utilities

http://blogs.citypages.com/ blotter/ 2012/01/ southwest_lrt_ business_ community_ support. php

http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2013/08/economist-explains-18

http://pedestrianobservations.wordpress.com/ 2011/09/19/passenger-miles-are-overrated/

 

 

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Jun/14

19

Minnesota Debuts Online Absentee Ballot Request Tool

On June 18, 2014, Doug Chapin posted on the Humphrey School of Public Affairs blog a great article on the State’s new online absentee ballot request tool. He included the complete release from the Secretary of State’s office:

SAINT PAUL, Minnesota — Minnesota voters can now request an absentee ballot online at mnvotes.org through a new tool launched by the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State. The service allows voters to apply for an absentee ballot quickly and easily without the need to print, scan forms, and return by mail, fax or email. A similar tool for military and overseas voters was introduced in September 2013.

Voters may request an absentee ballot for both the August 12 Primary Election and November 4 General Election. Ballots for those elections will be mailed when they become available on June 27 and September 19, respectively.

“Providing online services that are efficient and convenient for voters leads to greater voter participation, helping to ensure every eligible voice can be heard in our elections,” says Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.

Ritchie adds the new tool saves election officials’ time and reduces errors by eliminating the tasks of manually entering voter data and interpreting handwriting.

Upon requesting an absentee ballot, voters may use the “Absentee Ballot Lookup” tool at mnvotes.org to find the status of their ballot, such as when it was mailed, and if their completed ballot was received and accepted by their local elections office.

Voters may continue to request absentee ballots by mail, and vote absentee in person at their county elections office, as well as a select number of cities.

‘No Excuse’ Needed to Vote Absentee
The Office of the Secretary of State expects an uptick in absentee balloting in 2014 as Minnesota voters no longer need an excuse to vote absentee, such as being ill or out of their precinct on Election Day. As a result, more voters can vote early by absentee to avoid long lines and waits at the polling place.

In Minnesota’s last non-presidential election in 2010, there were 127,248 absentee ballots cast, about 6 percent of the total 2,123,369 votes cast.

Eligible voters may learn more about the absentee ballot process at mnvotes.org.

How the “Request an Absentee Ballot” Tool Works
Voters requesting an absentee ballot online complete the online application at mnvotes.org. Their information is verified against data from the state’s Driver and Vehicle Services or Social Security Administration. Local election officials review the application, and if approved, send the voter their absentee ballot so they may vote early.”

The author goes on to note that our state law states that “any ballots received on election day (1) after 3:00 pm, if delivered by an agent; or (2) after the last mail delivery, if delivered by another method, shall be marked as received late by the county auditor or municipal clerk and must not be delivered to the ballot board.

So, if you’re sending in an absentee ballot, don’t wait until the last minute so you don’t find your ballot wasn’t counted.

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©2014 DFL SD 48. Prepared and paid for by Senate District 48 DFL, Sharon Borine, Chair, 18285 Croixwood Ln, Eden Prairie, MN 55347