25 October 2008

Voter's Rights: Minnesota

Voter's GuideAny U.S. citizen who has been resident in Minnesota for 20 days prior to the election who will be 18 by November 4th, 2008 has the right to register on election day 2008 in the precinct they live in. (There is information pertaining to other states at the bottom of this post.)

You also have the following rights:
  • To be absent from work for the purpose of voting during the morning of Election Day without a deduction in wages.
  • To vote if you are in line at your polling place prior to 8:00 p.m.
  • To vote without proof of residency if you are already registered.
  • To receive a replacement ballot if you make a mistake or spoil your ballot before it is submitted.
  • To cast an "absentee ballot" if you are unable to vote in person on election day for any of the following reasons:
    * away from home (your precinct)
    * ill or disabled
    * an election judge serving in another precinct
    * unable to go to the polling place due to a religious holiday or beliefs
    * you are in the military or otherwise outside the U.S.A.
  • To bring your minor children into the polling place and into the voting booth with you.
  • To vote without anyone in the polling place trying to influence your vote.
  • To take a sample ballot into the voting booth with you.
  • Know your voting rights!To take a copy of the official Minnesota Voter's Bill of Rights into the voting booth with you.
  • To orally confirm your identity with an election judge and to direct another person to sign your name if you are unable to sign your name.
  • To receive special ballot assistance when voting because of an inability to read English or physical inability to mark a ballot.
  • To have a person of your choice accompany you into the voting booth if you need assistance, except an agent of your employer or union or a candidate.
  • To large print or audio instructions and assistance if you have limited vision (provided by the AutoMARK ballot marker.)
  • To have election judges come to your vehicle with the ballot if you cannot easily leave your car.
  • To vote after a felony conviction if your sentence has been completed. (Also known as being "off paper.")
  • To vote even if you are under guardianship, unless a court order has specifically revoked your right to vote.
  • To file a written complaint at your polling place if you are dissatisfied with the way an election is being run.
Anyone lawfully in a polling place can ask an election judge to make a challenge to a person's eligibility to cast a vote in that precinct (including other election judges and designated Republican or DFL observers.) However, "challenges" must be based upon that individual's personal knowledge that the voter is not eligible.

Challenges may not be automatic, or frivolous. They may not be based upon lists developed by political mailings - including those returned as either undeliverable or refused. They must be in writing, and under oath that the challenge is based on the challenger's personal knowledge.

Home foreclosure is not a sufficient basis for a challenge, since not only may the voter intend to return to the home, but they may legally be in residence in a foreclosed property for many months; knowledge of foreclosure does not constitute knowledge of where the voter lives.

Students are often challenged as "non-resident" but by Minnesota law may vote in the precinct they live in while they attend school, even in school-provided housing. Students still residing in a parent's home should vote in the precinct that home is in.

The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan political organization that encourages the informed and active participation in government, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. I strongly urge you to visit their website for additional information. There is information in the following video regarding voting in both primaries and the general election.
Do you know where your Minnesota precinct polling place is?

Elsewhere around the country...

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has information on voting in all 50 states collected in one handy location. They are a non-partisan organization committed to helping all eligible voters cast ballots, and working to limit and mitigate disenfranchisement as the ultimate anti-American activity. Here are shortcuts directly to the information in a few states likely to be in the limelight due either to being closely contested on election day 2008, or to recent history of balloting problems:

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