For more than 100 years, since voting rights were expanded for women in 1920, the League of Women Voters of Minnesota has worked to be a trusted source of nonpartisan voter registration and education, promoting free, fair and accessible elections. Never has that role been more important than in our current fractious political environment, which has produced unwarranted suspicions about candidates, election officials, voting machines and voters.
As absentee voting gets underway Friday, we'd like to issue a special message to our candidates, voters and election officials, who we trust will work together to uphold Minnesota's proud tradition of maintaining access to fair and secure elections, while protecting the privacy of our voters and the safety of our election officials.
To candidates, we encourage you to fill out candidate surveys you receive and participate in forums. Help voters learn where you stand on the issues so they can make informed choices.
Candidate forums and voter guides provide unique opportunities for you to tell your story and learn more about the concerns of your potential constituents. The league invites all registered candidates who are running in contested elections to participate in our statewide, bilingual voter guide at www.Vote411.org. We also encourage you to participate in one of our nearly 200 candidate forums conducted throughout the state by our 35 local Leagues.
For the past half-century, the league has been trusted to conduct nonpartisan candidate forums, and we train hundreds of members on best practices for running fair and impartial forums to address voters' concerns. Thank you for taking the time to help voters better understand what you have to offer.
To voters, please take time to learn about the candidates on your ballot, and make a plan for how, when and where you'll vote. Registered voters can vote at home with an absentee ballot, early in person at county election offices, or at their polling location on Election Day, Nov. 8. Eligible citizens not yet registered can register to vote online or in person at county election offices or other voter registration community events until Oct. 18, or may register on Election Day. Your polling place may have changed, as the 2020 Census triggered changes to district boundaries.
Please also consider becoming an election judge and participating in the public accuracy tests and election audits available to you, so that you can see firsthand how our elections work. You can find this information at the Minnesota Office of the Secretary of State. You can also get this information and more through the league's nonpartisan voter guide. Our bilingual guide has information about where candidates stand on the issues, listings of upcoming candidate forums, links to recorded forums and all the information you need to register and cast your vote. Vote411 and the full listing of our candidate forums is available on our website at www.lwvmn.org.
To our county election officials, we thank you for your service and professionalism in running our elections, and for reassuring voters that their votes will be counted accurately. For more than a century, the league has been a witness to trained nonpartisan local election professionals who, together with local election judges from all major parties, implement our many election safeguards to conduct our elections and ensure that all votes are correctly counted.
Your role in upholding the accuracy of our elections has been proven time and again through the public accuracy tests and postelection public audits that occur in all our counties. To help the public learn more about how our elections work, the league has launched our Elections411 webpage, which outlines the many safeguards that are in place and provides references from across the political spectrum about the trustworthiness of our elections.
We greatly appreciate the time our election officials, our candidates and our voters will put into this process leading up to Nov. 8. When we all do our civic duty with commitment and respect, we sustain a democracy where every person has the desire, the right, the knowledge and the confidence to participate.
Michelle Witte is executive director, League of Women Voters of Minnesota (firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-402-3184).