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A how-to guide for lakes-area midterm voters

Early registration must be completed online or received by mail no later than 20 days prior to Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Beth Wayne Elections Office 9_22.jpg
Beth Finkelson, Otter Tail County election support, and Wayne Stein, county auditor-treasurer, help county residents register to vote.
Contributed / Otter Tail County
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PERHAM — Though election day isn't for another month, the time to start thinking about registration is now. Prospective voters have up to 20 days before the 2022 Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 8 to register ahead of time. To register early, those interested have until Tuesday, Oct. 18.

"I would just encourage anyone who's moved or had a name change since the last time they voted to either check your registration or register to vote prior to the election," said Heather Hoeft, the city of Perham's election administrator. "It will save you a lot of time at the polls on Election Day."

If you're unsure about your voter registration status, there are a few different ways to check. For Minnesota residents, Hoeft suggests going to the Minnesota Secretary of State website's election page, at mnvotes.org . Under the "register to vote" page, there will be an option to check your voter status.

For those without internet access, Hoeft suggests calling your county's election office.

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Here are the lakes-area election office phone numbers:

Becker County: 218-846-7311
Otter Tail County: 218-998-8040
Wadena County: 218-631-7792

For those who aren't registered to vote, registration is the clear next step. If you want to register ahead of time, there are a few options, the first being to go online. There is a link to do so on the aforementioned election page, at mnvotes.org . If you wish to register on paper, you can download the application on the same website, fill it out and take it to your county election office.

In order to register to vote ahead of time, you will need your Minnesota driver's license or ID card number, or the last four digits of your Social Security number.

For more specific registration information, such as how to do so when homeless, with a criminal record or living abroad, go to mnvotes.org.

Here are the addresses to lakes-area county election offices, from the Minnesota Secretary of State website:

Becker County
Becker County Courthouse
915 Lake Ave.
Detroit Lakes, MN 56501

Otter Tail County
Otter Tail County Government Services Center
510 Fir Ave. W
Fergus Falls, MN 56537

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Wadena County
Wadena County Courthouse
415 S Jefferson St.
Wadena, MN 56482

Online early registration must be complete by Oct. 18, and by-mail early registration must be received by that same day. For those unable to register ahead of time, there is also an option to register on Election Day itself, Hoeft said.

You will do so at your polling place, which can be found at the Minnesota Secretary of State's poll-finder at pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us/ . You can also contact the previously mentioned election offices.

"If you do need to register on Election Day, please remember to bring the required documentation," Hoeft reminded voters.

For Election Day registration, you will need one of the following proof of residence options:

  1. An ID with your current name and address
  2. A photo ID and a document that has your current name and address, such as a lease or a bill due or dated within 30 days of Nov. 8
  3. A registered voter who can confirm where you live
  4. A college student ID and a student housing list
  5. If you changed your name or moved but are still registered at the same precinct, tell the election judge your old name and/or address.
  6. A notice of late registration by mail
  7. A staff member of a residential facility

If you're unable to vote in person, you can also apply for a mailed absentee ballot or download one at mnvotes.org . You can then return the completed ballot to your county election office by mail, fax or email. Ballots must be received by Nov. 8.

Here is the email and fax contact information for lakes-area county election offices according to the Minnesota Secretary of State website:

Becker County
Fax: 218-846-7257
Email: elections@co.becker.mn.us

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Otter Tail County
Fax: 218-998-8042
Email: bfinkels@co.ottertail.mn.us

Wadena County
Fax: 218-631-7652
Email: joy.weyer@co.wadena.mn.us

To return your absentee ballot in person, do so no later than 3 p.m. on Election Day to the same election office that sent the ballot. Do not drop it off at your polling place.

"It's pretty cut and dry," Hoeft said. For more information, contact your election office or go to mnvotes.org .

Elizabeth (she/her), 23, graduated with a degree in Journalism and Communications from the University of Wisconsin–Stout in 2020. Elizabeth has always had a passion for telling stories about people and specializes in community features, which she uses for her Perham-centered content.
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