Decision time: Voters head to the polls on Tuesday

Voters across the nation will head to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 6, to cast their ballots for president and a number of other significant national, state and local elections.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Locally, residents should vote at their local city hall or township hall.

In addition to the high-profile presidential election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, residents of the Watertown and Mayer areas will have a number of significant races in which to cast their votes. In Watertown, residents will choose between Rick Mann and Charlotte Johnson in the mayoral election, and in the city council race, Steve Washburn, Jason Theisen, Adam Pawelk and Chuck Charnstrom are battling for two seats.

In Mayer, Mike Dodge is running unopposed for mayor. Incumbent city council members Tice Stieve-McPadden and Bruce Osborn are running unopposed on the ballot, but Nikki McNeilly is also running as a write-in candidate for Mayer city council.

There are also seven candidates fighting for four seats on the Watertown-Mayer school board. That list includes incumbents John McCain, Jennifer Hoover, Chad Koehler and Steve Burns, along with challengers Gary Bjurstrom, Erin Blair and Bob Brasch. A question and answer piece with all of the local mayoral, city council and school board members ran in last week’s Carver County News.

At the township level, Watertown and Hollywood Townships both have races on the ballot as well. The only race to be contested, however, is Hollywood Seat A Town Supervisor, between incumbent Kent Kassulker and challenger Al Leuthner. Judy Warner will be the only name on the ballot in Hollywood Township for Clerk.

In Watertown Township, all three races are unopposed. Si Hoese and Scott Tesch are both running for separate Town Supervisor seats and Dave Heldt is running for treasurer.

All five Carver County commissioners are up for re-election this year as well, including District 4 commissioner Tim Lynch, who represents both Mayer and Watertown. Lynch is being challenged by Frank Long.

At the state level, incumbent state representative Ernie Leidiger, R-Mayer, is being challenged by Keith Pickering, DFL-Watertown, in District 47A, which encompasses both Watertown and Mayer. In the District 47 state senate race, incumbent Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, is being challenged by Jim Weygand, DFL-Carver.
In another high-profile race for U.S. Congress, incumbent Republican Michele Bachmann is facing a challenge from Democrat Jim Graves in Minnesota’s sixth district, which now includes Mayer and Watertown. In a statewide race for one of Minnesota’s two senate seats, incumbent democrat Amy Klobuchar is being challenged by republican Kurt Bills.

There will also be numerous judicial races on this year’s ballot, including state supreme court chief justice, a race between Lorie Skjerven Gildea and Dan Griffith. Dean Barkley and Barry Anderson are also squaring off for another seat on the state supreme court, and Tim Tingelstad and David Stras are fighting for another spot. There are also numerous other appeals court and district court races on the ballot.

Of course, the hot races that are garnering the most attention aren’t for candidates at all. They’re for the constitutional amendments on the ballot this year. One would, if approved, require voters to show IDs at the polls, and the other would, if approved, define marriage in the state constitution as being between one man and one woman. It is important to note that not voting for either of those two measures counts the same as a “no” vote.

Important Voting Info
Before you can vote, you must register. In Minnesota, one may register at least 20 days before Election Day, or same-day registration is available on Election Day at the polling place. To be eligible to register and vote in Minnesota you must be at least 18 years old on election day, be a citizen of the United States, have resided in the state for 20 days immediately preceding Election Day and have any felony conviction record discharged, expired or completed.

Voters who have voted in recent elections should already be registered to vote. Your registration remains current until you move, change your name, or do not vote for four consecutive years.

Registered voters received a postcard in the mail earlier this year verifying their polling place. Voters may also look up their registration status by visiting and clicking on “Elections and Voting.” Those who are already registered to vote do not need to bring anything with them to their polling place.

Voters who are not pre-registered may register at their polling place, but will need to provide proof of residence.

To register at the polling place, you must bring one of the following with your current name and address to verify your residence in the precinct:

• A valid Minnesota driver’s license, learner’s permit, Minnesota ID card, or receipt for any of these. Driver’s licenses must include your current address.
• A valid student ID card including your photo, if your college has provided a student housing list to election officials
• A Tribal ID card that contains your picture and signature
• A valid registration in the same precinct under a different name or address
• A notice of late registration sent to you by your county auditor or city clerk
• A voter registered in the same precinct as you who can confirm your address with a signed oath
• An employee of the residential facility where you live who can confirm your address with a signed oath
• One from each of the following lists: 1) a photo ID, which can be expired (Minnesota drivers license; Minnesota ID Card; U.S. Passport; U.S. Military ID Card; Tribal ID Card; or Minnesota University, College, or Technical College ID Card), AND, 2) a current bill with your current name and address in the precinct (Telephone (landline, cell, VOIP, etc.); TV (cable or satellite, etc); internet services; electric; gas; solid waste; sewer services; water; rent statement from last  30 days that itemizes utilities; current student fee statement).