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Editorial: With options available, no excuse to not vote

Even in the middle of a global pandemic, Freeborn County voters have the widest array of options to cast a ballot as they’ve ever had. As a result, excuses for not voting are particularly slim.

Those uncomfortable visiting a polling place in person can request an absentee ballot and have it mailed to them. After voters complete a ballot in the comfort of their home and sign the envelope in the appropriate places, the finished package can be mailed to the Freeborn County auditor-treasurer’s office. Alternatively, voters can drop their completed ballot off at the Freeborn County government center in person or with the help of a close family member like a brother, sister, spouse, in-law or guardian.

By the end of September, 2,800 Freeborn County voters had asked for absentee ballots. In the last presidential election, the county received 2,300 absentee ballots through the end of the election.

Data from the State Board of Elections said that as of Oct. 9 635,003 voters have already cast absentee or mail-in ballots across the state of Minnesota.

Those who request absentee ballots and are nervous about putting it in the mail should ensure it’s delivered in person to the Freeborn County Law Enforcement Center at 411 S. Broadway Ave. in Albert Lea.

There is also the option of early in-person voting. All voters have at least one location where they can vote early in person with an absentee ballot. Early voting started Sept. 18, and in Freeborn County can be done at the Auditor-Treasurer’s office. People who vote in-person at the courthouse are encouraged to make an appointment to do so on the county’s website. They should check in with security at the law enforcement entrance when they arrive, where their temperature will be taken, and they should wear a face mask.

This year, to ensure their vote is counted, some voters feel determined to cast their ballot in person, to feed their completed ballot into the counting machine. The local and state boards of elections are putting in place good measures to make sure that’s a safe experience on Election Day.

Of course, every election is important. From town halls to the halls of Congress, elected officials make decisions that affect our daily lives and the way our community looks. But this year’s election is particularly critical because of the wide slate of contested races — president, U.S. Senate and Congress, Minnesota’s House of Representatives and Senate, Freeborn County’s board of commissioners, Albert Lea City Council and the Albert Lea Area Schools board — and the different visions expressed by the candidates in them.

With the plethora of options to vote, anyone who chooses not to cast a ballot in 2020 only has themselves to blame. Make a plan to vote today and, if you have questions about voting in 2020, call Freeborn County Auditor-Treasurer Pat Martinson’s office at  507-377-5121 or 507-377-5117.