How do I vote?

Identifying which state to register and vote in

Voting by mail

Most states (37 plus D.C.) allow early/absentee/voting by mail. Most of these states (27 plus D.C.) allow for “no excuse” mail voting, meaning you do not need to provide a reason why you’re voting by mail. (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 while studying abroad

To vote while studying abroad, you will need to fill out a FPCA ballot application, receive a ballot by mail, fax or email, and return the ballot by mail. You can begin filling out your FPCA ballot application at Student Vote From Abroad regardless of which state you plan to vote in. When applying for your FPCA ballot you must do so at wherever you were last registered to vote or wherever you last lived. This will usually be either your permanent home address or your dorm address from the previous year/term. If registering from a Carleton dorm address, you should mark “0” for your house number and select your past dorm or house name from the street address drop down menu. Be sure to send in your ballot early enough so it will count! If this is your first time registering to vote, we recommend registering at a permanent home address (not Carleton).

Voting in Minnesota

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. TurboVote will also provide you with reminders about upcoming elections and voting, if you sign up for them.

Register

  • ID: If you live on campus (house or hall) the only form of ID you need is your One Card. This is because Carleton has supplied the on-campus housing rosters to election officials, so they already have proof of your address at the polls. 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″ as their house number and select “NOURSE HALL CARLETON CLG” as their street address from the dropdown menu. A student living in Freedom House would list “0″ and select “Williams House Carleton College”, and a student living in QTPOC House would list 0 and select “Henrickson House Carleton College.” 
  • Mailing Address: DON’T check the “I CANNOT receive mail at this address” box. Leave that box unchecked. We know this is confusing!

Request an absentee ballot

In Minnesota, anyone can vote by mail (a.k.a. vote absentee). 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. You can request an absentee ballot until November 6, 2024, but don’t wait. Mail in your ballot well before Election Day. 

Vote

In Minnesota there are several elections coming up in the next year to be aware of:

  • Precinct Caucuses: February 27, 2024
  • Presidential Primary: March 5, 2024
  • Primary Election: August 8, 2024
  • Election Day: November 5, 2024
    • Early voting for the 2024 general elections begins September 22, 2024. Read the section below to find out more about voting early by mail or in person.

Different ways to vote:

  1. To vote by mail: Apply for and mail your absentee ballot well before the election you hope to vote in. If your ballot arrives after election day it will be invalid. Make sure to send your ballot early enough so it will count! Once you have returned your ballot, you can track your absentee ballot to confirm it’s been accepted.
  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: If you have not registered to vote on election day make sure to bring your OneCard. Carleton students are able to vote at the UCC church (300 Union Street) across from the Weitz Center. The only exception is if you live in Jewett, Rice, Page, Wade, Douglas and Parish you must vote at St. John’s Lutheran Church (300 3rd Street). This is approximately a 15 minute walk, 0.7 miles away. 

Note: Some of you, including those on Northfield option may vote at other locations. View the Northfield map with polling places or check your polling location (Leave the house number blank and select your residence hall or house name in the drop-down menu.) 

Registering to vote on Election Day

  • 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. 
    • 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.

Who are the candidates and what are their positions?

Vote411 is the national League of Women Voters nonpartisan candidate information website. To see information about candidates on the ballot for students living on campus and voting in Minnesota, enter this address: 300 College St, Northfield, MN 55057.

KYMN radio, the local radio station, also has a local candidate guide. 

The following candidates will be on your ballot in 2024 if you plan to vote in Northfield. The names of incumbents for each office are listed below their office. All candidates for each office will be listed closer to the November 5th general elections.

  • Mayor, City of Northfield – Non-partisan
    • Rhonda Pownell 
  • City Council – Non-partisan
    • Brad Ness – at large
  • School Board – Non-partisan
    • Claudia Gonzalez-George, Chair
    • Noel Stratmoen
    • Corey Butler, Vice-Chair
    • Amy Goerwitz, Clerk
  • County Commissioner – Non-partisan
    • Galen Malecha
  • MN House Rep – Partisan
    • Kristi Pursell
  • US House Rep – Partisan
    • Angie Craig
  • US Senate – Partisan
    • Amy Klobuchar
  • Presidency – Partisan
    • Joe Biden

Minnesota Precinct Caucuses and Party Conventions

Caucuses are meetings run by Minnesota’s political parties. They are the first in a series of meetings where parties may endorse candidates, select delegates, and set goals and values (called party platforms). Precinct caucuses are a great way to get involved with local and state politics! 

Who can participate in caucuses?

To participate, you must be eligible to vote in the next general election and live in the precinct.

Where and when are the caucuses?

All precinct caucuses are Tuesday, February 27 at 7:00 P.M.

If you live on campus the DFL caucus will be at the Weitz Center in room 236 and the GOP caucus will be at the Northfield High School. If you live off campus you can find the location of your caucuses using the MN Secretary of State’s caucus finder.

What happens at a caucus?

  1. Elect precinct party leadership. Precinct party chairs are volunteers who are responsible for organizing partisan political activities in the precinct. These activities include maintaining contact lists, holding political meetings, and helping with campaign efforts
  2. Discuss issues for the party to support. At precinct caucuses anyone can propose an issue or idea for their party to support, called a resolution. If other caucus-goers like and vote in favor of your resolution it will pass to the next convention and then the next until it becomes part of the party platform or action agenda. Resolutions are most likely to make it onto the action agenda if they are passed in multiple precincts and counties. Thus, it can be helpful to look online for resolutions proposed by various interest and advocacy groups.
  3. Choose delegates who will endorse candidates at future conventions. Delegates selected at the precinct caucuses go on to county convention where they vote on resolutions and select delegates for the state party convention. At the state convention these delegates vote to endorse candidates and add resolutions to the action agenda.
A graphic providing an overview of the way that precinct caucuses impact county conventions and how county conventions impact the state convention.

Other Elections Resources

Where to go with questions

Where to go with questions

  • If you have trouble voting at the polls on Election Day, you can call 866-OUR-VOTE, a non-partisan voter helpline, or visit 8666ourvote.org for chat assistance.
  • If you have questions or concerns about voting regulations in Minnesota, call Minnesota Secretary of State 1-877-600-VOTE or visit mnvotes.org
  • If you have questions about early voting at Northfield City Hall, contact Northfield City Clerk’s Office at 507-645-3001 or this website.
  • If you need help making your voting plan before election day, email Mia Strubel Iram, CCCE Peace and Conflict Fellow.

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

Can I still vote in Minnesota for the general election if I voted in my home state for a primary?

  • You are still eligible to vote in the Minnesota generals as long as you have lived in Minnesota for more than 20 days, which is true for everyone. If you are registered in your home state make sure to register in Minnesota before or when you go to the polls.

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. 
    • 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 Max Serota a CCCE Peace, Conflict, and Democracy Fellow. If you have trouble voting at the polls on Election Day, you can call 866-OUR-VOTE, a non-partisan voter helpline, or visit 8666ourvote.org for chat assistance.

Carleton College Voter Engagement Plans

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:

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 Mia Strubel Iram or Max Serota, CCCE Peace and Conflict Fellows at strubeliramm@carleton.edu or serotam@carleton.edu. If you ever want to publicize an upcoming opportunity on this email list, email a brief blurb to Mia or Max.

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.

Guidance for Faculty and Staff

Carleton faculty and staff may engage in a range of activities to encourage students to vote and become civically engaged. Indeed, the Higher Education Act (HEA) mandates that federally funded college’s and universities attempt to register students in connection with federal and gubernatorial elections. Additionally, faculty and staff may engage in policy nonpartisan policy advocacy and lobbying efforts. However, in their official capacity as a faculty and staff members they may not engage in partisan political activities. Such partisan activities include coordinating voter education activities with a candidates campaign or conducting activities that are skewed in the favor of a single candidate. For a more detailed look at type of permissible and impermissible political and voter engagement activities, please see the attached issue brief (pages 9-15).