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Martin: Voter Registration Day serves as a reminder to vote in odd-year elections

Today, Sept. 26, is Voter Registration Day. This nationally recognized day was created to boost voter registration numbers and raise awareness about the importance of voting. In Minnesota, we know voting is the cornerstone of our democracy. That'...

Today, Sept. 26, is Voter Registration Day. This nationally recognized day was created to boost voter registration numbers and raise awareness about the importance of voting. In Minnesota, we know voting is the cornerstone of our democracy. That's why we have the highest voter turnout rate in the country. Yet even with this claim to fame, many of us still miss a key opportunity to have our voices heard: Odd-year elections.

Presidential and statewide elections take place on even-numbered years. These elections get a lot of attention and Minnesota voters generally head to the polls in droves. But elections that take place during odd-numbered years, often for municipal level positions, see lower turnout. Minnesota's voter turnout for the 2016 election, when the presidential race was the top of the ticket, was 74.72 percent. In 2015, the last odd-year election, it was only 50.51 percent.

But odd-numbered year elections are equally important. Take this year for example. On November 7th, voters have the opportunity to elect mayors and city council members in 27 Minnesota communities. Almost 70 communities will elect school board members. Additionally, some school districts will have levy questions on the ballot asking community members for much-needed resources to meet the growing needs to prepare our children for college and career success.

The people we elect to serve on our city councils and school boards make decisions that impact our day-to-day lives. City officials determine how our communities are kept safe, which roads are repaired, and the quality of our parks and libraries. School board members look out for our students, decide how to spend local and state taxpayer money, and mold school policy. Every single day our lives are touched by the people we elect to run our cities and oversee our schools. These critical offices don't get the attention that other elected officials do but have a huge impact on our communities.

If you have an upcoming municipal election and are not yet registered to vote, use National Voter Registration Day as a great reason to do so. Volunteers will be at libraries, college campus and other public places to help Minnesotans register. If you cannot register on Sept. 26, you can register online at the Minnesota Secretary of State's website, mnvotes.org. If you are already registered to vote, do your part by encouraging others to register.

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Let's get our family, friends, and neighbors registered. Let's remind them of the importance of voting in odd-numbered year elections-and let's encourage them to head to the polls for the municipal elections on Nov. 7th.

Martin is chairman of the Minnesota DFL.

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