Early voting may have much to recommend it. But count us among the many Minnesotans who relish the opportunity Election Day affords to troop to a local gathering spot and exercise democracy’s franchise in concert with our fellow citizens.

If you have not already voted — and if you’re an eligible U.S. citizen, age 18 or older — please join us at the polls Tuesday. They’re open between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. You can find your polling place with the Star Tribune’s handy online tool at startribune.com/myvote, or by calling your county auditor’s office.

Yes, there will be lines, especially before and after the typical workday. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes. Yes, registration is required. But in Minnesota, you can register at the polls with proper identification. Yes, it can take more than a few minutes. But state law requires employers to give employees paid time off in order to vote.

There may be some tension in the air. A hotly contested election always generates that feeling. But, as the Editorial Board described in detail Monday, the polling place itself is democracy’s sanctuary. State law forbids the display of campaign material or any electioneering inside a polling place or within 100 feet of it. Campaigns are not allowed to send poll watchers to the polls. By law, even journalists must keep their distance and avoid engaging voters in conversation.

In Minneapolis and potentially elsewhere, unarmed sergeants at arms will be on hand to assist election judges in keeping things quiet and calm inside the polling place. Armed police or guards won’t be present unless summoned by an election judge.

Polling places are designed to give voters peace and privacy and their ballots anonymity. But it’s fitting that they are also community gathering spots where all eligible voters are welcome and accommodated, regardless of disability or other special circumstances.

By going to the polls Tuesday with your fellow citizens, you’ll affirm something fundamental: The responsibility to shape the governments of the nation, state and local region is borne by every citizen. Citizens benefit no one — least of all themselves — when they choose not to vote.

Americans are not on the receiving end of a distant, uncontrollable government. They are government’s producers. They should not miss Tuesday’s opportunity to produce a government that reflects their better selves.

 

To read the Editorial Board’s 2016 endorsements, click here.