By A. R. Vander Vegt
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Your vote counts


August 9, 2018

Primary elections are right around the corner — a few short days from publication date. Tuesday, August 14, don’t forget to cast your vote in the primary.

What is the purpose of a primary election? This year, 2018, a general election will be held November 6. August 14’s primary election, then, is held in order to determine which names appear on the ballot in November.

On primary election day, the voter will receive one ballot with two sides: one is for partisan offices, the other is for non-partisan office.

In the State of Minnesota, both Senate seats in District 8 are up for grabs. Incumbent Amy Klobuchar is back on the ballot for a term that would end in 2025, as is Tina Smith, who was appointed after Al Franken resigned last year. That term ends in 2021, which would have fulfilled Franken’s regular term. Their names are not uncontested, however.

On the DFL ticket for the term ending in 2025, Klobuchar’s name is joined by David Robert Groves, Leonard J. Richards, Steve Carlson and Stephen A. Emery. For the term ending in 2021, Richard W. Painter, Ali Chehem Ali, Christopher Lovell Seymore Sr., Gregg A. Iverson and Nick Leonard join Tina Smith.

The Republican ticket is also contested by numerous candidates. Merrill Anderson, Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente, Rae Hart Anderson and Jim Newberger put their hats in the ring for the U.S. Senate seat that expires in 2025. Nikolay Nikolayevich Bay, Bob Anderson and Karin Housley are contending for the Senate seat expiring in 2021.

Pete Stauber and Harry Robb Welty filed under the Republican ticket for U.S. Representative District 8. Those who cast a DFL vote will choose between Jason Metsa, Joe Radinovich, Soren Christian Sorensen, Kirsten Kennedy and Michelle D. Lee for the hotly contested District 8 seat.

Also up on the partisan ballot is governor and lieutenant governor. Matthew Kruse and Theresa Loeffler, GOP-endorsed Jeff Johnson and Donna Bergstrom, as well as Tim Pawlenty and Michelle Fischbach are all vying for those positions respectively on the Republican ticket.

Tim Walz and Peggy Flanagan, Tim Holden and James P. Mellin II, Ole Savior and Chris Edman, DFL-backed Erin Murphy and Erin Maye-Quade, and Lori Swanson and Rick Nolan filed under the Democrat ticket for governor and lieutenant governor.

Finally, the final item on the partisan ticket will be that of Attorney General. Doug Wardlow, Robert Lessard and Sharon Anderson are on the GOP ballot. Matt Pellikan, Tom Foley, Keith Ellison, Mike Rothman and Debra Hillstrom fill up the DFL’s ticket.

In primary elections, you can only vote for candidates from one political party. Minnesota Secretary of State’s website states, “If you vote for candidates from both political parties, your votes will not count.” As Minnesota does not have political party registration, which party you vote for is completely your prerogative — you vote simply must be of one party for the primary election.

Carlton County, according to Auditor/Treasurer Paul Gassert, has about 20,000 registered voters. “In 2016, the primary turnout was less than 1,500,” he wrote in email. Gassert noted, however, that 2016’s primary ballot did not concern any local offices.

“I am of the opinion that the more local races we have on the primary ballot …, the greater the turnout.”

On the non-partisan side this year, District 4 County Commissioner is up grabs — the seat is currently held by Susan Zmyslony, but other names have joined her on the ballot this round: Brenda Martini, Mark J. Thell, Randy L. McCuskey and Michael K. Gay.

Gassert emphasized the importance of getting out to vote — even for primaries. “From a County Auditor/Elections Administrator perspective (especially coming from a relatively small count), I cannot stress the importance of counting each vote and each vote counting.”

He shared a story from his early days a Carlton County’s auditor/treasurer. Having been elected in fall 1990 and sworn in January 1991, October of that year brought about an interesting situation.

“In October, 1991, County Commissioner Alex Laveau (who was just into his second term of office), passed away suddenly. His death triggered a ‘special’ election to fill his unexpired term.” Six candidates filed for office, necessitating a “special” primary election held in November. From that election, Gordon Aanerud and Ramona Laveau advanced.

When the special election occurred in December, the initial result was Laveau (widow of the late Commissioner Laveau) won by one vote. Laveau had 528 of the votes, 527 votes were counted for Aanerud — “1,058 of the roughly 3,600 eligible voters participated in that Special Election.”

At the time, recounts were not required for a one vote difference. Aanerud requested a recount, however, and Gassert’s office conducted it.

“Within one of the precincts, our recount (as conducted by myself and staff), produced a different result of one vote less for Ms. Laveau, and one additional vote for Mr. Aanerud,” Gassert said. The final count was Aanerud with 528 votes, Laveau with 527.

Since that time, there have been other recounts, “but none that close on a county commissioner district office.”

“Just goes to show that each vote does get counted and each vote counts,” he said.

Make sure your voice gets heard on Primary Election Day, Tuesday, August 14. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. If you can’t make it to your local polling place during those times, consider voting early. The Carlton County Auditor’s office will have extended hours to accommodate those who cannot vote on Tuesday. On Saturday, August 11, the Auditor’s Office will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, August 13, the office will be open until 5 p.m. for absentee voting in addition to regular office hours, which are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

If you are not yet registered to vote, no problem. The State of Minnesota allows eligible voters to register on Election Day. You are eligible to vote if you are a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years old on Election Day, a resident of Minnesota for 20 days, and if you are finished with all parts of any felony sentence. For more information, visit

If you are registering on Election Day, be sure to bring your valid Minnesota driver’s license, learner’s permit or ID; or a receipt for any of these. Other valid forms of ID are your Tribal ID with name, address, photo and signature, U.S. Passport, U.S. Military or Veteran ID, Minnesota university, college or technical college ID — even your Minnesota high school ID can be used to register. For a full list of valid IDs and more information, visit


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