How do I vote?

General Election Day is November 3, 2020.

Whether you are a first-time voter or registered to vote in another district in the United States, the easiest way to find out how and where to vote is through the national TurboVote platform. It will also provide you with reminders, if you sign up for them.

Identifying which state to register and vote in

Voting by mail

This year, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Minnesota Secretary of State is encouraging people to vote by mail using an absentee ballot. This is also true for many more states.  Most states (37 plus D.C.) allow early/absentee/voting by mail. Most of these states (27 plus D.C.) allow for “no excuse” early voting, meaning you do not need to provide a reason why you’re voting early. (Nudge: Minnesota is one!). Check the  U.S. Vote Foundation’s non-partisan website to verify your state’s important registration deadlines, options for voting in person or by mail, and to find links to your state election office. TurboVote will work with all of the early voting states and it will give you useful information on where and when to vote. 

Voting in Minnesota

Important Minnesota election dates

Step 1: Register

Register to vote online as soon as possible, ideally in September, no later than October 13. 

  • ID: You do not need an ID to register online at least 21 days before the election. If you register when you vote or when you request an absentee ballot, you do need a photo ID and proof of address. Individuals who have suppressed their identity on the Carleton directory should plan to register in advance of the deadline or consult the Dean’s Office, if registering on Election Day, to ensure that election officials will be able to verify their residence using a OneCard.
  • Residence Address: A student living in Nourse Hall would list “0 Nourse Hall Carleton College” as their street address, a student living in Freedom House would list “0 Williams House Carleton College”, and a student living in QTPOC House would list “0 Henrickson House Carleton College.” 
  • Mailing Address: You cannot receive mail at your Carleton residence hall address. Therefore, you must also provide a mailing address. Enter “1 N. College Street” in the P.O. Box address line for your mailing address.

Step 2: Request an absentee ballot

In Minnesota, anyone can vote by mail (a.k.a. vote absentee) and the MN Secretary of State recommends it this year due to the pandemic. You do not need an excuse or special reason. To vote by mail, request an absentee ballot online. Do this 3 – 5 days after you register to vote online, once this website shows your registration has been processed. Don’t wait. Mail in your ballot well before November 3. 

Step 3: Vote

  1. To vote by mail: Mail your ballot well before November 3. (All requested mailed absentee ballots come from the county with a self-addressed, postage-paid envelope and instructions for completing and returning ballots.) Your ballot will be counted if it is mailed by election day, but we highly recommend you do not wait until then. You do not need a witness to sign your ballot, as long as you were already registered to vote when you requested your ballot .
  2. To vote early in person: Go to Northfield City Hall. It’s easiest to do this after you’ve registered to vote. If you’re not registered, you need to bring photo ID and proof of address. For a Carleton proof of address, send an email requesting your “Fee Statement with Housing Assignment” from studentaccounts@carleton.edu. You will receive a PDF you can show when you vote. Alternatively, you can have someone already registered at Carleton vouch for you by bringing them to City Hall.  Avoid going in large groups. This is a small office, and social distancing is required.
  3. To vote in person on election day, November 3: Check your polling location. Most people on campus are in Ward 1, Precinct 1. This year, those voters go to Saint Johns Lutheran Church, 500 3rd St W, Northfield, MN 55057, .8 miles, or a 15 minute walk from Carleton. Allow plenty of time, as there might be a long line. 

Other Elections Resources

Elections FAQ

I voted here in the last election. Do I need to re-register?

Almost certainly yes. If you are living in a different dorm, you MUST re-register. You can do this online or in person on the election day. It saves you time and reduces lines at the polls if you pre-register!

To vote you must be:

  • A U.S. citizen
  • At least 18 years old on Election Day
  • A resident of Minnesota for 20 days
  • Finished with all parts of any felony sentence

How do I vote from abroad?

COVID-19 safety information for Northfield voting locations

  • Voters are requested to wear a mask in the City Hall building and while voting.
  • Physical distancing restrictions will be in place. 
  • The voting room will be restricted to voters only due to limited number of people that can be in the room at one time. 
  • Be prepared for lines, due to distancing and other protective measures that will be place.
  • Please note the absentee/early voting location is not equivalent to a regular polling location. There is limited space and limited staff available at the location during the 6-week absentee/early voting period.

What to do on election day

The first step to voting is registering. You may only vote once in every election. Once you arrive at your voting location (polling place) you will go to an election judge and they will walk you through the process. 

  • If you are registered to vote, your name will be on a list of voters. You’ll just need your signature. 
  • If you aren’t registered, Minnesota offers same-day voter registration on Election Day.
    • If you live on campus, you can prove your residency with your OneCard or a Student Account Statement (from the Hub). 
    • If you live in Northfield Option Housing, proof of residency may consist of a copy of a lease or a bill inscribed with your mailing address. Students may also be asked to write down their social security number. 
    • If you do not have this documentation, you may also have another registered voter from your same precinct vouch for you. They must accompany you to the polls.
  • For more information, see the Minnesota Secretary of State website.

If you have any questions, call the Minnesota Secretary of State 1-877-600-VOTE, Northfield City Clerk’s Office at 507-645-3001 or email Yuki Nagaoka or Clarissa Guzman, CCCE Peace and Conflict Fellows at nagaokay@carleton.edu or guzmanc@carleton.edu.

What’s on the ballot?

  • In Northfield: President, U.S. Senator, US Representative District 2, State Senate District 20, State Representative District 20B, County Commissioner, Mayor, City Council at Large, School board, State Supreme Court, and more.
  • Across the Country: Consult Vote411.org, a non-partisan resource by the League of Women Voters, to learn what’s on your ballot.
  •  To learn more about candidates in local races, look by county or city on the MN Secretary of State Candidate Filings page.  

Minnesota Political Parties and Groups

State Political Parties

Rice Country Political Parties

Local Civic Organizations

St. Olaf College

Contacting Our Congressional Representative

Congresswoman Angie Craig was sworn in as our representative from the MN-2 District to House of Representatives on January 3, 2019. Representative Craig’s website has information about her background and her stand on the issues affecting our district. You may wish to subscribe to her newsletter, which will keep you informed about the congressman’s actions. You may also wish to contact Rep. Craig’s offices.

Constituent service and listening to constituents in the district is a core responsibility of any member of Congress. Since all full-time students can be considered residents in MN-2, then Rep. Craig’s office is going to be very interested in what you have to say about any of the major issues before the 116th Congress. (Non-residents of MN-2 are not likely to have their opinions taken with the same weight).

Getting to Know Minnesota’s 2nd District

If you want to know more about MN-2, check out this map of the district and check out the district Wikipedia page. (See this map of all congressional districts in MN). Only the northern portion of Rice county is in MN-2 – that is, mostly Northfield and not Faribault.

Local Newspapers

You may be wondering about writing to editors of local newspapers in MN-2. Besides the Northfield News, the largest newspaper in MN-2 is SunThisWeek.

CCCE Support for Political Engagement and Activism on Campus

How the CCCE Supports Political Engagement and Activism on Campus

The CCCE supports political engagement and activism in the following ways:

List of Activist Student Organizations and Leadership

The CCCE maintains a list of all active political/activist student organizations and the contact information of their leaders, which can be found below. This information can also be viewed with a bit more description on handouts available outside the CCCE, Sayles 150.

CCCE Politics Listserv and Political Engagement Updates

The CCCE has a bi-weekly email that compiles upcoming opportunities related to political events, as well as broader Peace & Conflict programming. If you want to be added, email Yuki Nagaoka or Clarissa Guzman, CCCE Peace and Conflict Fellows at nagaokay@carleton.edu or guzmanc@carleton.edu. If you ever want to publicize an upcoming opportunity on this email list, email a brief blurb to Yuki or Clarissa.

Funding and Transportation

The CCCE has supported student organization and initiatives in the past by helping to fund small expenditures for an upcoming meeting or event (This would be for expenses such as food or room set-ups. The CCCE does not fund speakers or large expenses as this is more within CSA’s realm). We also have offered transportation for activist events via EcoTrans, campus fleet vehicles, and other options.

To request funding or transportation, please email tysonj@carleton.edu with the following information:

  • A description of the event including date and location
  • Why you believe there is a need for this event on campus, what organization you represent
  • How many people you plan on attending
  • Exactly how much money you are requesting and exactly what you plan on spending it on (if it is a funding request)
  • Whether this event is open to all of campus.

We will review this request and should be able to get back to you in a timely manner. We currently ask that all requests be sent at least a week in advance.

General Guidance and Support

The CCCE is always happy to assist students and student organizations with a variety of general guidance and institutional knowledge. This includes providing help figuring out how to get chartered or request funding from CSA (student government), assistance making a room reservation or putting a request through Print Services, and how to publicize an event or plan a project.

CCCE-Sponsored Events

In addition to these functions, the CCCE also directly sponsors certain events throughout the year in the realm of activism and political engagement. In the past, the CCCE has co-sponsored a Northfield Mayoral Debate and local candidate forums during election years. The CCCE also works in conjunction with the liberal arts consortium, Project Pericles, to sponsor the Debating for Democracy organizing workshop each winter to help better train aspiring activists and citizens on how to organize around a cause.

Educational Resources

For Faculty

  • Ideas & Strategies:
  • Consultation and Support: The Carleton Elections Teaching & Learning Working Group is co-chaired by Al Montero of the Dean of the College Office and Sinda Nichols of the CCCE. Group members: Sean Leahy, Library; Krissy Lunz Trujillo, Political Science; Serena Zabin, History and American Studies, League of Women Voters.

For Staff & Peer Leaders

  • Swag: The CCCE has “I Will Vote” stickers available for student programming. Contact Clarissa Guzman, guzmanc@carleton.edu, or Yuki Nagaoka, nagaokay@carleton.edu.
  • Consultation and Support:
    • The Carleton Peer-to-Peer Voter Education Working Group is co-chaired by Rae Horton of the GSC and Alessa Strelecki of Res Life. Group members: Carolyn Fure-Slocum, Chaplain and Anna Schumacher, WHOA House Coordinator and CCCE fellow.
    • The CSA Student Voting Working Group is co-chaired by Luke Norquist and Molly Zuckerman. Group members include Clarissa Guzman, CCCE Fellow, and Yuki Nagaoka, CCCE Fellow.

Non-Partisan Voter Education Events

Local Candidate Forums

Non-partisan Local Candidate Forums: Learn more about local candidates at the Cannon Falls-Northfield League of Women Voters Candidate Forums via zoom. The forums will be September 26 and Sat. October 3 with a 9:00-10:00 am, 10:30-11:30am and 1:00-2:00pm forum on each day.  The League will be inviting candidates for the following electoral races: Northfield Mayor, City Council (At Large, Ward 2, Ward 3), Northfield School Board, MN House (20B and 58B), MN House (20 and 58), Rice County Commissioner District 1.

Convocation with Mindy Romero: “The Power of the Youth Vote”

Mindy Romero will give a virtual Convo talk on October 16 from 12:30 – 1:30 entitled “The Power of the Youth Vote.” This political sociologist examines patterns of voting and political under-representation among youth and communities of color.