|9/23/2020 9:12:00 AM|
Early voting begins
Friday was a fairly busy day for absentee voting in Cottonwood County - at least far busier than usual at this stage of the game, according to local election officials.
That's not a bad thing for our county in what will forever be known as, "the year of the pandemic." In an era where almost everything is seen through a political lens, we believe that should not be the case for early voting.
This year, more than any other, it is a necessary piece of America's cherished election system.
Early voting, particularly absentee voting, will be popular among those who have health conditions, or are elderly - and for good reason. People can have the ballots sent to their homes. There, they can write in their addresses, driver's license number, etc, and return the ballots without risk.
Whether you vote at home, or using the absentee ballot booths in the Courthouse, the process is the same. Forms and secrecy envelopes are available at the auditor's office in the Courthouse.
In either case, registered voters do not need witnesses and an unregistered voter must have a witness.
Those who choose to vote at home have a few options as to how they deliver their ballots.
They can mail their ballots. The ballots must be postmarked no later than election day and must be received by election officials within seven days of the election.
They can drop their ballots at a drop box outside the Courthouse.
They can drop off their ballots inside the auditor/treasurer's office during business hours.
One other option for early voting is to use the voting machine, which will be available in the Courthouse seven days prior to the election. The voting machine works just like the one area residents use on election day, except it is available well in advance of the election. A key benefit is that typically there are no lines at the machine for early voting.
So far, 25 absentee ballots have come in and the auditor/treasurer's staff, is still busy taking ballot requests and sending out ballots. To date, the county has received more than 700 absentee ballot requests, already exceeding the 550, or so, total absentee votes in a normal presidential election.
Incidentally, there are 6,399 registered voters in the county.
All that said, it is clear these are busy times for the auditor/treasurer's office staff. Auditor/Treasurer Donna Torkelson said she was disappointed with commissioners' decision to turn down her request to add employees. The result, she said, is that some of the usual duties of auditor/treasurer's office will go to the back burner as they focus on election work.
We tip our hat to these hard-working employees who hustle to send out ballots and carefully inspect those come in. This is democracy at work, an effort to make sure everyone gets a chance to vote and that every vote is counted.
Keep up the good work!
- Rahn Larson