HUMBOLDT — This year’s civic election will see mail-in ballots and an extra advance voting day compared to the last one, but will also see the number of polling stations reduced from three to one.
Rob Muench, Humboldt’s mayor, said at the July 27 council meeting these changes were made to make it easier to comply with pandemic health regulations and to keep things safe for the community.
“There was a lot of thought put into this,” he said, adding the city consulted with other communities to find out what they were doing.
Voting will take place at the Uniplex, which was chosen because it is easier to ensure physical distancing within the space available.
The advance voting days will be Saturday, Oct. 31 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday, Nov. 2 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Thursday, Nov. 5 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Election Day will be Monday, Nov. 9 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
To get a mail-in ballot, a Humboldt resident must fill out a voter registration form and a declaration of person requesting mail-in ballot form at least 10 days before election day. The forms will be available on the city’s website or at City Hall, as well as able to be requested over the phone.
The voter will then be provided with a kit featuring a ballot, a ballot security envelope, a voter confirmation envelope, a self-addressed postage paid envelope to send it to be counted, and instructions on how to vote by mail.
“I know that the advanced polls and the mail-in ballots are going to be used by some that don't want to get out in the public when there's a lot of people around, so it gives them an option as well,” Muench said.
There will be no special or mobile polls this election, due to concerns that it would expose more vulnerable populations to COVID-19. Last election saw a special voting station at St Mary’s Villa.
The returning officer for the election will be Michael Ulriksen, the director of community services. The names on the ballot will be in alphabetical order according to last name, with no occupations listed.
A criminal record check will not be required to run for council.
“My understanding of the matter is that you could ask them to do a criminal record check, that information goes into the clerk but after that, you can't make a rule that they're limited from running,” said Joe Day, the city manager, adding later that the city also couldn’t, by law, make the presence of a criminal record public.
“You have the information, with no real action that you can take on it, so the question is: why ask the question in the first place?”
Day confirmed to council that other cities are taking a similar approach.
The budget for this election is set at $10,000, higher than the $8,600 spent in 2016.