Hey folks, it’s time for the Minnesota voter information session here. First off, if you want to find out how to protect your vote and have a handy checklist, that’s a good site for it. Also, if you’re interested in Rolling Stone’s in-depth look at voter suppression you should take a look there.
If you’re interested in how local voter suppression/intimidation is taking place, just answer your phone and listen to Mark Ritchie (MN’s actual Secretary of State) tell you what to do.
“We want to let all Minnesotans know that if you or anyone in your family receives a phone call from any individual claiming to be working with or associated with the Office of the Secretary of State, politely get their name and phone number and then hang-up and immediately contact our office at 1-877-600-8683,” Ritchie said.
Alright, so first the practical stuff. In Minnesota, you can register to vote on election day. So, come TUESDAY, if you’re not registered you can march down to the polls and do it right then. Here’s more information about registering. Here’s info about MN registration from Obama. Also, if your ID has the wrong address or you moved or whatever, someone in your precinct can vouch for you that you live there and you can vote that way.
This is a side note, but if you happen to have been convicted of a felony and have finished serving your time (they say “discharged, expired, or completed”), you’re able to vote in Minnesota. Just FYI.
Find your polling place. When I find it, I’ll also put up a phone number you can call if there’s a problem with voting. For now, use the SOS number: 1-877-600-8683
And despite my irritation with the Strib’s full force move to the right, I do recommend their MyVote application because you can generate and mark up your list of candidates easily and print it out. You can bring a list of the candidates you plan to vote for to the polls. It’s hard even for the most politically savvy of us to remember things like, oh, soil and water candidates’ names.
As for the races on the table, I’ll take a minute and weigh in on what’s on the ballot here.
I won’t go into detail on the top level ticket candidates, you already know I’m going to say Obama – Franken – Ellison. So let’s leave that there. Also, District 61A for the Minnesota House goes to Karen Clark, of course.
There are a number of ballot initiatives that need to be considered this time around. Each of them has pros and cons, so I thought I’d sort them out for you (and me) to hash out yay or nay votes.
First – the Constitutional amendment
Increase state sales tax by 0.375% to pay for environmental and cultural programs.
Tax increase amounts to 38 cents on a $100 purchase. Money would be divided among projects related to clean drinking water (33%), natural areas and wildlife habitat (33%), parks and trails (14.25%) and arts and culture (19.75%). Must be approved by a majority of all voters – not voting on the question counts as a “no” vote.
Most people who rather poorly assess the amount of thought I do put into politics might expect me to automatically vote yes to this – supporting our environment and culture are truly important to me. But I have mixed feelings about this amendment. I’ll bullet them.
- Yes: funding for the environment and the arts are consistently in danger in tough economic times – and in good ones – and it would be nice to see the majority of Minnesotans saying that these things are important enough that we should enshrine those values in our constitution.
- Yes: a “no” vote on this might give our legislators license to further cut funding for these kinds of programs because it would say that Minnesotans don’t care.
- Yes: no legislation isn’t flawed. This is the best way to ensure funding.
- No: Sales taxes are regressive – meaning that they disproportionately affect people with lower incomes. Is it right for the burden of caring for our environment and culture/arts to be put upon people who can least afford it?
- No: Adding to that, the drive towards “assessments” and fees that target individuals allows people with wealth to amass more of it and not pay their fair share for the types of programs and necessities that make our state healthy.
- No: Legislators should do their jobs and legislate. We shouldn’t have to force them to spend money where they should. (I think this is a poor argument, actually, because things like lobbying skews their perception of what is necessary.)
- No: This might actually cause legislators to stop funding the arts/environment at high enough levels because they would perceive the sales tax as handling those issues.
It’s a tough one, and I’ll admit to strugging with it.
Second – Minneapolis school operating levy
Operating levy: $585 per pupil increase
$172 tax increase on a $213,000 house. Total per pupil levy if passed: $1,200. To hire more teachers, keep class sizes down, purchase technology and textbooks and improve reading, math and science programs.
God, I wish the state would fund our schools better so that the burden of funding individual districts wouldn’t put disproportionate burdens on the people in the districts. (Leading to richer areas to have better schools.) Sigh. But what are you going to do? The schools need money. I know this logic directly contradicts my struggles with the constitutional amendment, but sales taxes are far more regressive than property taxes.
Third – Referendum: Expand school board and elect some members by district
Minneapolis voters will decide whether to expand the city’s school board from seven to nine seats with three elected citywide and six elected by districts, similar to the city’s Park and Recreation Board. All are now elected citywide. If approved, the plan would be phased in over two voting cycles. Proponents argue it would increase board members’ accountability to residents throughout the city.
I heard on MPR that the state mandated this to happen and if we didn’t do it then we’d have to vote on it as a city – and thus we’re voting on it. This just makes sense to me. I hope it would ensure that areas with struggling schools and poorer areas could have someone who is representing their interests. I’m voting yes.
The judges always drive me bonkers because I really have no idea. Thankfully I have awesome resources – aka people who work with these people. Their (trusted) judgment is as follows and its strength is based on how smart, articulate, and fair the judges are:
State Supreme Court Associate Justice
Paul Anderson (strong, glowing endorsement)
Lori Gildea (strong, glowing endorsement)
Court of Appeals:
Seat 16 -
Terri Stoneburner (strong endorsement)
Philip Bush (medium endorsement)
Jane Ranum (strong, glowing endorsement)
No endorsement – sorry.
I wish I knew something about the Soil & Water races, but I don’t know enough to make some kind of public pronouncement of it. Good luck, folks.
I found a website as I was compiling this list that does have recommendations for some races that I neglected – so go on and take a look.