arly voting has started for the general election, but if you are new to the process, how do you decide how to vote?  

There is partisan voting and nonpartisan voting.  Partisan voting means the candidates are running to be elected as representatives of a particular party.  The two major parties are Republican and Democrat, and there are also quite a few minor parties.  Partisan candidates on your ballot will include president and vice president, U.S. senator and representative, and Minnesota senator and representative.  These people are elected to serve as members of their party, and to represent the people who had a right to vote for them.  You should research each candidate to find out who best aligns with your beliefs, and what you would like to see done, if they are elected.

In general, if you believe in low taxes, America as exceptional, a small and efficient government, a strong military, Second Amendment rights, free-market capitalism (pro-business), extreme restrictions on abortion, less regulations, more personal property rights, restricted immigration, traditional values, and are anti-socialism, you probably lean Republican. 

According to some Democrat internet references, if you believe in social equality, environmentalism, strengthening the social safety net, big government, higher corporate taxes, green energy, minority rights including LGBT, abortion rights, pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, climate change, equality among countries, restriction of weapons use, and socialism, then you probably lean toward the Democrat party.

Nonpartisan voting is for candidates such as county commissioners, city council members, mayors, school board members, and judges.  They represent the people of their specific areas, rather than a specific party, which is why they are called nonpartisan.  They hold no allegiance to any party, but are supposed to represent the wishes of the majority of their constituents, the people who vote for them, or perhaps voted against them.  They are from a particular district, ward, town, etc.  You vote for them not because they are from a party, but because they seem to stand for what you stand for, or believe in, or would like to see change, or stay the same, in the future.  Making sure you research these candidates carefully is very important, as they can have a direct influence on your day-to-day life, family, business, and property. 

If you vote absentee by applying ahead of time, and then return it by mail or drop it off in person, follow the instructions carefully, you will have the ballot in your hands, and have a chance to study each candidate carefully.  To request an absentee ballot, go to https://mnvotes.sos.state.mn.us/ABRegistration/ABRegistrationStep1.aspx.  

You may wish to study candidates’ internet information, available literature, or email or talk to them.  If you are planning to vote in the ballot box on election day, or vote early in person, you might wish to print a sample ballot well ahead of time, so you have the same chance to study each candidate.  In order to print a sample ballot for your exact address, go to https://myballotmn.sos.state.mn.us/ and fill in your address.  You will not see your exact ballot, but a sample of what will be on it.  Print this to study it carefully.  Then close to the bottom of that page, you will see a colored link which says “Click Here for Polling Place Location.”  This is especially important this year as some locations have changed for safety reasons.  For more comprehensive instructions specific to Otter Tail County, you can go to:  https://ottertailcountymn.us/vote-early-by-absentee-ballot/.  Do not hesitate to use the contact information if you have any questions at all!

For those who have been following my conservative column for any time at all, you will understand why I believe this election is of prime importance.  I have been especially keeping an eye on the regulatory over-reach, and lack of frugality, of our current board of county commissioners.  I ask those of you in Districts 1, 3 and 5, if you agree with my concerns, to look for a candidate who would represent a change in direction.


Marcia Huddleston is deputy chair of the Republic Party of Otter Tail County.

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