Present-day challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic have given rise to many modern-day heroes. We have seen our first responders, medical personnel and others in a whole new light as they serve on the front line making sacrifices to ensure our health and safety.

This election provides another example of a group of dedicated citizens who deserve our praise and thanks: poll workers — yes, those people we see working at polling locations. Poll workers impact our elections in so many ways; they give us confidence that our ballots will be counted accurately. Our elections will be fair and honest.

Across every political jurisdiction, poll workers come from all walks of life, races, creeds, ages and political beliefs. They worked long hours to ensure our votes matter. They arrived early before the polls were open, prepared the voting areas so they were orderly and safe for the rest of us to exercise our right to vote. Many assisted voters in navigating the voting process without influencing the person's vote.

Many were older citizens who are possibly vulnerable to COVID-19, yet they believed in providing us the on-the-ground work of making elections happen, providing election security and stability that gave each of us comfort in voting. Notwithstanding the pandemic and its accompanying upheaval, they were there checking voter names in and handing out ballots so we could decide who represents us.

By their presence and efforts, poll workers ensure the integrity of our voting process. They are the ones who ensure that we have well-run polling places and let us know that our votes are secure. They provide us with a sense of normalcy in these troubled times that our election and individual ballot count.

These tireless workers, who rarely receive credit, demonstrate personal qualities of caring about our right to vote and should be regarded as the guardians of our republican form of government.

Next time you see someone you know who worked at the polls, please thank them for being a hometown election hero.

Tom Mortenson, Detroit Lakes, Minn.
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Minnesota's secretary of state is the hero of this year's election: 78% or more statewide turnout with speedy results and virtually no problems. This is democracy in action. Thank you, Steve Simon!

Mark Howland Ambroe, Minneapolis
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As an election judge in my locality, I and my co-workers pledge to be impartial and to not sway people to our own school of thought. I and my co-workers (many of whom put in at least a 15-hour day on Tuesday) performed our jobs with excellence, energy and absolute faith in our Constitution and laws. Before we started setting up to let in voters, a request was made to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and it felt absolutely correct to be stating "indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

In these COVID-driven days safety was foremost (ever try to sanitize a ballpoint pen between uses?) and my co-workers were absolutely following our instructions even if there were a few individual voters who used curbside voting rather than wear a mask or the like.

One really encouraging thing that I found about Election Day was that there were so many election-day registrations. It is your Minnesota right and privilege to vote if you are a United States citizen and at least 18 years of age. Regardless if you voted for my candidate, thank you for voting, and to those 18- and 19-year-olds who cast their ballot for the absolute first time: As I told you at the ballot-reading machine, "Congratulations, welcome to the electorate!"

Paul Schultz, Ham Lake

Its goals are laudable. Its means of achieving them, not so much.

Wednesday's letter calling the Electoral College "genius" confuses the founders' goals with the means they chose ("Its genius is in balancing power," Readers Write).

The writer notes that the founders "did not want a king or emperor" but a president with "broad support throughout the country" — laudable goals. The founders implemented several measures to try to achieve them: checks and balances between branches of government, power divided between the federal government and states, a Bill of Rights and the Electoral College.

But do those measures work? For the Electoral College, clearly not. Trump fancies himself king, campaigned almost exclusively to his narrow base, and got elected with virtually no support from the coasts and the narrowest of pluralities — not even majorities — in a few swing states. Clinton not only won the popular vote, but also had much broader geographic support: overwhelming majorities on the coasts and almost as much as Trump in swing states. Trump has nearly repeated in 2020, showing that 2016 was no fluke, but indicative of a systemic flaw.

The courts, Congress, state governments and the Bill of Rights have all worked in some measure to thwart Trump's despotic designs. Thank you, founders!

But with the Electoral College, the founders miscalculated: Their design has backfired to give us exactly the sort of dictatorial, narrowly supported president they feared.

To better achieve the founders' goals, drop the Electoral College. The founders' greatest genius was giving us means to amend the Constitution when practical experience shows that an original provision, however well-intended, isn't effective.

John Goolsby, St. Paul

One tip: Lose the condescension

Some plain English suggestions on how to "bridge the divide" ("We must bridge this divide," Readers Write, Nov. 5) between big-city and small-town, rural Americans.

College graduates: Don't automatically assume, just because you have a four-year degree or more that you are smarter than someone without a college degree. Major media, especially "journalists" at the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN: Lose the condescending, arrogant and elitist attitude toward conservative folks living in "flyover America." Big Tech: Don't decide what we should see or not see. Politicians/federal government workers: Don't call President Donald Trump's voters and supporters "ugly folks" (Joe Biden), "deplorables" (Hillary Clinton), bitter clingers (President Barack Obama) or "hillbillies" (FBI Agent Peter Strzok).

Just a few uneducated thoughts on how to help "bridge the divide" between big-city people and rural, small-town folks.

Neil F. Anderson, Richfield
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I appreciate the letter calling for bridging the decisive political divide. Opposing positions on cultural issues do present ripe opportunities for healing discussions and moving the social curve toward more community-centered common ground. But lying, personal denigration, denial of science and the creation of alternative realities make this discourse very difficult or impossible. As we saw in the political debates it is not possible to have heartfelt, honest discussions when both sides don't listen or one side badgers or dismisses the truth in what is spoken by the other. Until we expect and embrace respectful interactions by local, state and national role models, the division will be very hard to bridge.

Mark Lucas, Minneapolis

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