On a beautiful late October Saturday in 1972, my grandfather (born 1888) was at our house for lunch. We were discussing the forthcoming Nixon/McGovern presidential election; it was to be my first opportunity to vote. At some point, I offered an inane comment, something like, “I don’t know enough about the candidates; I am not sure that I will vote.”
It was the only time in my life when my grandfather shouted at me. He said, “You are a CITIZEN of the United States of America! YOU VOTE!” Clearly, I had earned his rebuke.
The right and the responsibility to vote are central and profound elements to the American democratic experience. I have never forgotten the important lesson my grandfather gave to me so long ago. Thank you, Grandpa!
See you at the polling place.
Douglas Nimmo, St. Peter, Minn.
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Good morning, America. Get out there and vote! And as you do, please remember that America does not belong to the president. It does not belong to Congress. It is our country and therefore your country. Show her some love.
Barbara J. Gilbertson, Eagan
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Whew! It’s over! Sick of all these political ads — no matter which party!
Billions of dollars have been allocated to this campaign! This is truly vulgar spending on behalf of our candidates!
We do have the internet, you know — where we can review exactly the past efforts of all candidates.
Six weeks is plenty of time to campaign before an election! Enough!
Elise Kist, Eden Prairie
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I know there are more important things to be focused on in this midterm election, but my biggest concern at the moment is not whether Democrats will take back the House or who our next governor will be. I’m worried about not having a red “I voted” sticker to wear on Election Day.
After seeing a post a few weeks ago on our neighborhood’s Nextdoor website saying how easy it is to vote by mail, I decided to click on the link and do just that. And, you betcha, it was easy and efficient. My verified ballot arrived in the mail just a few days later. Done. Crossed that off my list, I thought a little bit smugly.
It was so easy in fact that it inspired me to start my own little get-out-the-vote campaign for my far-flung family. My husband travels for work and would likely be gone on Election Day. No problem. Just answer a few questions online and boom, ballot in the mail. Our daughter, an enthusiastic first-time voter, filled out her ballot in her freshman dorm room in Madison. Same thing for our son who is a college senior in Arizona. Kerplunk. Postage-paid ballots in the mail.
My mom lives in an assisted-living facility in Roseville and getting to the polls wears her out for a week, so I requested an early voting ballot for her, too. I was with her when her large, white envelope arrived from Ramsey County and watched as she reverently laid its contents on her kitchen table. And suddenly my newfound enthusiasm for this early voting thing was dashed. There it was! That little red “I voted” sticker, missing from the four Hennepin County ballots my family had received.
So that’s what I’ve been fretting about ever since. Of course, I know the important thing is that we voted and took part in this glorious privilege of democracy, hard-fought-for by previous generations and still being defended today. But there’s just something so satisfying about peeling that sticker off its backing and proudly affixing it to my coat that make the process “real.” Proof that lets me walk around that day feeling like a good citizen, smiling knowingly at others wearing that same red badge of honor. Knowing that despite all the dysfunction and craziness of politics today, I’ve at least done the very least that is asked of me.
But today I’ll be out in the world stickerless, going about my business feeling like a scofflaw of democracy. Perhaps I’ll pin a note to my coat that says “I really did vote. Hennepin County just didn’t send me a sticker.”
Thanks for voting today, no matter how you did it.
Lynn Fleming, Minneapolis
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Thank you for running for office. Those of you who are successful on Tuesday have long “to-do” lists. Please add one item: Secure our election systems throughout the nation. Guard against hackers, domestic and foreign. Make voting places accessible to all. Provide paper trails in all states so we can prove votes are tabulated correctly. Voting is a sacred right. Please work to keep our votes safe.
Stephanie Wolkin, White Bear Lake
‘KEEP RIGHT, EXCEPT TO PASS’
(And it’s the law, but then there are also these other laws)
David Berger’s Nov. 5 counterpoint on drivers keeping right — “A word to the wise (and it’s the law): Keep right, except to pass,” responding to “A prayer for the gesticulating driver 4 inches off my bumper,” Oct. 27 — was excellent but for one serious flaw. He condemns drivers who “camp in the left lane, many car lengths behind the drivers in front of them.” This perfectly describes someone else: a prudent, law-abiding driver following at a Minnesota Driver’s Manual-prescribed 3-second rule (about 14 car lengths at 50 miles per hour or nine car lengths at 30).
Leaving a safe gap in front might annoy impatient drivers but doesn’t violate the law. Filling the gap violates Minnesota Statute 169.18 Subd. 8(a) against tailgating.
The rush-hour driver Berger should condemn is one who “camps” in the left lane as cars in front pull away or cars beside him pass.
John Kaplan, St. Paul
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I have some disagreement with the “A word to the wise … .” I drive stretches of Interstate 494 and Hwy. 100 at various times of the day. I typically move to the left lane from my entrance and stay there until a mile or so before my exit. The writer emphasizes a law about “slower traffic staying to the right,” but there is another law called the speed limit. Traffic in the left lane of the stretches that I drive typically moves at 10-plus mph above the posted limit. I drive to keep up with the other drivers in the left lane, but even so I encounter tailgaters who wish to drive 20 or more mph above the limit. If I want to let one of these drivers go by, I must wait for a space in the center lane, then I cause disruption in the flow of traffic in that lane. I believe that lane-changing is one of the problems of traffic congestion; if drivers would minimize it, traffic would tend to move smoother and faster. Those who wish to drive 80 mph should get on a racetrack.
Gerard Olson, Bloomington
When do the green lights turn red for anticipated polluters?
Minnesota’s decisionmakers have failed future generations by ruling in favor of a foreign-owned corporation over the people of our state (“State OKs PolyMet mine,” Nov. 2). The proposed PolyMet copper/nickel mine, which has now received Minnesota Department of Natural Resources permits, will be a climate and water catastrophe that does not take future generations into account.
Decisionmakers: Where does it end? Why we are allowing PolyMet to buy our cleanest water at a mere $8 per million gallons and return it to us polluted? Why are we risking the loss of 10,000 clean-water-dependent jobs in the St. Louis River-Lake Superior watershed? Why aren’t we “mining” our landfills, where we currently discard 40 percent of our copper? Why aren’t decisionmakers protecting us from the inevitable, 100 percent failure rate of copper mine tailings basins, which will send sulfuric acid-laden water into Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world? Clean water has immeasurable economic and social value that is seldom accounted for in the for-profit equation.
If Minnesota’s young people were to give a grade to our state commissioners, agencies and elected officials who are charged with protecting their health and welfare, it would be an “F” for failure.
Anne Reich, Marine on St. Croix, and Jaci Christenson, White Bear Lake