A hometown newspaper with a local office, local owners & lots of local news

Absentee voting in presidential primary opens Jan. 19

Ready or not, it’s time to start thinking about voting in what amounts to an election-heavy year. Next Friday, Jan. 19, marks the start of absentee voting for the state’s presidential nomination primary on March 5 — the first of three important election dates in 2024.

Absentee voting begins 46 days before an election day. Subsequent election dates include the Aug. 13 primary and the general election on Nov. 5.

Voters residing in Carlton County may cast in-person absentee ballots at the courthouse in Carlton (301 Walnut Ave., Room 205) from Jan. 19 through March 4.

Voting times at the courthouse are as follows:

8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday during regular business days.

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the Saturday before election day.

8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Monday the day before election day.

To request a mail-in absentee ballot, voters need to be registered and fill out an online absentee application at mnvotes.sos.mn.gov/abrequest/index.

All voters will be faced with general election races for U.S. president, senator, and representative, as well as state representative and judicial seats. Depending on jurisdiction, voters will also be deciding seats for city officers, school and township boards, and local ballot questions.

In Minnesota’s presidential primary, “voters must request the ballot of the party of their choice,” according to the secretary of state’s office. “If a voter refuses to select a party, they will not be able to vote in the presidential primary.”

A voter’s choice of party ballot will be recorded and is private data, the secretary of state’s office added. However, a list will be provided to the chair of each major political party of voters who selected that party. How a voter voted on the ballot will be secret.

Only the presidential candidates from the major parties will appear on the presidential primary ballot. Other offices with a primary will be on the primary ballot in August.

Also in 2024, there are a number of new laws that affect voting; primarily among them are the new felon voting rights. A person convicted of a felony, but no longer incarcerated, can now vote, even if still on parole or probation.

Additionally, the right to be absent from work to vote has been expanded “to include any time during the absentee voting period or voting on election day,” the secretary of state’s office said.

Also new this year, 16- and 17-year-olds can preregister to vote.

The Carlton County auditor’s office is reminding any new residents or people who haven’t voted in the last couple elections to verify registration status at their current address prior to the preregistration deadline Feb. 13. Voters can check their registration status online at mnvotes.sos.mn.gov/voterstatuscheck/index. The state also offers a process for same-day registration, outlined here: sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/register-to-vote/register-on-election-day

For all other laws and updates visit: sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/how-elections-work/strengthening-our-democracy/

In 2020, the cost to administer the presidential primary was $9.6 million. Counties and municipalities are reimbursed for their costs of administering the presidential primary following the election.

The presidential primary results must bind the election of delegates in each party.

Also in 2024, precinct caucuses will be Feb. 27. Local and state nominating conventions will also still take place to conduct party business.

Additionally, townships in general around the state have elections March 12 for supervisors, clerk and treasurer. In Carlton County, 18 of the 24 townships changed to the November election cycle in the past, saving time, money and effort by putting it on the ballot with the other races. Five townships are unorganized and have no elections.

Lakeview is the only township in Carlton County that conducts March elections. Even without elections, townships still have a big meeting in March.

Each of Minnesota’s 1,790 townships will hold its annual town meeting on Township Day, the second Tuesday in March, or March 12.

“This is the opportunity for residents of the townships to meet to discuss local issues with other township residents,” the Carlton County auditor’s office said. “Some of the topics may also include road maintenance, bridges, ditches, fire protection, or other issues.”