This is a time when there is so much misinformation, fear and anxiety as our community of voters tries to decide not only who to vote for but also how to submit a ballot. I admit I am a bit of insider, having served as an election judge for a number of elections, always working the absentee-voting side.

In spite of the fact that we have never experienced this year’s volume of voters, in my estimation we were very well prepared. Our city clerk and her staff prepared a plan for large crowds of voters, and it has worked better than anyone could have hoped for. Needless to say this takes people, and I have had the honor and privilege to serve with some of the most caring and capable people. There are people that you see when you cast your ballot and people behind the scenes doing audits and many other tasks, all of us making certain your vote counts.

We are just one city connected to the hundreds of people working behind the scenes, like at Hennepin County where a large group of unsung heroes is accepting the mail-in and absentee ballots and (again) making sure your vote counts. Certainly the staff at our secretary of state’s office should not be left out — another group of unsung heroes at work.

I simply feel that we need to applaud these people who, once again, will do everything they can to see that your ballot is counted. This is not about me; I write this about my co-workers and those across Minnesota. We can be proud of our voting system in Minnesota. I know I am, and if I had any doubts, I would not do the work.

And many thanks to our voters, who have been respectful and patient.

James Clark, Eden Prairie

• • •

Every vote should count and deserves to be counted. However, due to COVID-19, it may take longer to get all votes counted. Absentee ballots can take longer to count. This means that we as Americans may have to wait longer than usual to learn the results of the 2020 presidential election. We are used to either going to bed or waking up to most votes having been counted and knowing who the next president of the United States will be. Despite understaffing during these times, elections workers are persevering as Minnesota is counting ballots.

With the above in mind, our election will look different, but it is still an election. We as Americans have the opportunity to vote. Voting is how we participate in our government processes and I value this right. This right to vote has been fought for since ink was put to paper on the Constitution. Because of this fight, I will honor those before me by utilizing my right to vote to voice my values (as you should, too).

I ask that you, the American people, remain patient with me as this election will be different. Just because we may not have the results of the race right away does not invalidate the election or its process. Minnesota has one of the safest and the most secure election systems in the country, and is well-known for leading the nation in voter turnout. Counting will take time, but we know we can trust our democracy.

Lucy Keefe, Bloomington

• • •

Quote by Gloria Steinem from a recent interview:

“If you don’t vote, you don’t exist. It is the only place we’re all equal, the voting booth.”

Sharon Fortunak, St. Paul

• • •

As we all know, there is a lot at stake in the election, and the two candidates could not be more dissimilar. However, I am not asking you to vote for a specific candidate, but to implore you to vote for the right candidate. Who is the right candidate? That is up to you, the voter. This is your election. But, please consider the personal views of each candidate holistically. It is easy to get roped into party politics and vote for only Democrats or Republicans. Yet, voters are not obliged to vote along party lines as our congressmen do. This election is not about which wing of democracy will inhabit the government. Instead, it is about our country’s future generations.

I am a member of those future generations. As a senior in high school, I will be unable to vote in this election. This year, I would love to vote more than anything else in the world, so I beg you not to waste your vote. Constituency is a consequential responsibility. I am powerless in this election, as are millions of others. Make your vote count for all those who have no voice. As an individual, you can make a change, you can vote bipartisan, and you can even diverge from your usual party. All I ask is that you vote for the person who will strengthen and support our country and its people.

Maxwell Lurken-Tvrdik, Freeport, Minn.


Bravo to setting that example

Hats off to Clare Bath and Jonathon Krull (“College students unite for civility across political divide,” Opinion Exchange, Oct. 31). Saint Mary’s University should be proud. Their approach is representative of civility among different political opinions and parties. I will talk politics and listen to others, but when voices are raised, and sometimes worse, I will not listen, and it certainly doesn’t tempt me to change my stance.

Thanks, students. You are representatives of what democracy was built on. You give older generations hope for change.

Karrie Galetka, Lino Lakes


Despite everything, a special night

As so many parents have this past year, I have watched my 12-year-old daughter grow up in a world that is sometimes hard to explain. Pandemics, contentious elections, social injustice and the upheaval that has come with it all. My heart has ached as she has missed out on family, friends, school activities and the memories she would have built that are so integral to who she is. In the same breath I have been amazed at how she has adapted, how resilient she has become and the maturity that living through it all has cultivated.

She wasn’t sure she wanted to go out trick-or-treating this year. Being on the cusp of being a teenager and unsure how many kids would even be out, she hadn’t decided until a few hours before that she wanted to go “just around the block.” So we threw together a costume from things we had at home and headed out the door with a mask and into the very cold and windy night expecting to be back in a half hour.

Over two hours later with a full sack and heart, rosy cheeks, her hand in mine and nonstop talking and laughing, we finally made our way back. Watching her dump out her new stash, with a lollipop hanging out of her mouth while she was sorting the piles, brought tears to my eyes. The pandemic has made her grow up quicker than she should, but in that moment she was every inch the child that my mom heart is hanging onto.

Thank you to the amazing and kind residents of Shakopee — who left out bowls of candy and homemade bags on tables with hand sanitizer next to it. Who answered their doors with masks, but with eyes that smiled and insisted she take just one more handful of candy. Thanks to the ones who dressed up or dressed their pets up and for all the small interactions that made life feel normal for a few hours. Thank you for the time you spent decorating, handcrafting notes and goody bags, and the unexpected and fun twists (our neighbor with the candy chute was the best) that made everything going on in these times disappear for a bit.

I know a piece of chocolate isn’t going to change the world, but it’s a wonderful place to start.

Jamie Shivery, Shakopee

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