Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Post-election observations from Minnesota November 3, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 9:47 AM
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I’VE ALWAYS HELD to the idea that if you don’t vote, you can’t complain. So…, I hope you voted yesterday.

I know. I know. You can tear/rip/shred that first statement apart into a mix of fragmented phrases or individual words because, in this country, you can complain. No matter how you voted, or whether you even voted, you have the right to express your opinion. How blessed are we to live in a country like ours, with such freedom?

Given that, why would I hold that don’t vote/can’t complain opinion? I should really add these two words to that sentence to more clearly define my position: If you don’t vote, you can’t complain too loudly.

In my voting precinct, at least one election official expected 60 to 70 percent of registered voters to turn out at the polls yesterday. Based on numbers I just gleaned from Faribault, Precinct 6, unofficial voting results on the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Web site, his prediction was spot-on correct. I figure around 915 people voted in my precinct. The same official told me that polls opened with 1,357 registered voters and that about 50 more registered on Tuesday.

That’s a good percentage of voters expressing their opinions via the ballot box in a non-Presidential election year.

If you ever think your vote doesn’t count, you need only look to the 2008 Senate race between Norm Coleman and Al Franken and the resulting recount to realize the importance of every single vote.

From media reports I’ve heard this morning—including an apparent computer software problem in Hennepin County—Minnesota is likely headed for another recount, this time in the too-close-to-call governor’s race. According to information posted on the Secretary of State’s Web site at 8:30 this morning, with 96.74 percent of the precincts reporting, Mark Dayton had 43.67 percent of the votes; Tom Emmer, 43.20 percent; and Tom Horner, 11.92 percent.

In my precinct, unofficial gubernatorial race results show Dayton getting 45 percent of the vote; Emmer, 39 percent; and Horner nearly 15 percent.

Who will become our next governor? It appears we may need to wait awhile for that answer.

ALL OF THAT ASIDE, here are several other observations I made yesterday while voting around 7 p.m. The stream of voters was so steady that I had to sit at an open table to vote—no cardboard tri-fold or curtain shielding my choices, not that I cared.

I noticed that on the ballot, the word “incumbent” is no longer listed with incumbents’ names, except for judges. When did this change occur? Why? And why do judges get the advantage of “incumbent” tacked onto their names?

When I went to insert my ballot into the ballot counting machine, no one was standing there to guide me, a major change from past years. I asked the election official who was sitting in a nearby chair why she wasn’t “right there” next to the machine. Officials need to be far enough away so that they can’t see how a voter voted, she explained. That’s understandable, but I can’t imagine anyone having eyesight good enough to see which ovals I darkened with my pen. But, I suppose…, just to be sure everything is done on the up-and-up…

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling