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Tuesday's vote will narrow local races, prepare for Nov. 6

WILLMAR -- Tuesday's primary in Minnesota will be the first with the state's new redistricting plan, so there's bound to be a little confusion.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie hopes to avoid some of it by helping people to get information about their polling places. Ritchie was in Willmar earlier this week to spread the word about the primary.

"Lots of people will be voting at new places and probably don't know that," he said. Local, legislative and congressional district boundaries are redrawn every 10 years, based on the most recent census results.

In west central Minnesota, voters will narrow the field for two legislative races and several county board races in preparation for the Nov. 6 general election.

Voters can contact their local county auditor offices or go to to check on their registration and polling places. Websites for political parties and many news organizations have posted sample ballots and include links to the information.

Primaries usually have a voter turnout of about 15 percent, he said, and it gives him and his staff a good opportunity to prepare for Election Day, when Minnesota typically leads the nation in turnout.

Ritchie said he and his staff have talked to a number of people who believe they will need a photo ID to vote in the primary.

While a proposed constitutional amendment to require a photo ID to vote is on the November ballot, it is not in effect, he said.

Voting in the primary will proceed as usual, whether people vote absentee, by mail or in person. They will still be able to register to vote on Election Day.

Ritchie said November balloting could change, depending on the outcome of a lawsuit challenging the state's same-day registration system as unconstitutional. A ruling is expected later this month.

If the amendment does pass in November, the state's voting system will change substantially, Ritchie said.

Because the amendment makes no exceptions for absentee, overseas, military or mail ballots, the state will have to develop systems to handle those situations, Ritchie said.

Voting by mail, which has occurred for years in sparsely populated areas, will no longer be allowed, he said. Areas that have had voting by mail will have to re-establish an in-person polling place that is handicap-accessible and has Internet access.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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