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Our view: Today, your vote could be the difference

Herald editorial board

In 2017, an election to determine the future of a downtown Grand Forks park was decided by 182 votes. In that election, 2,451 people voted to raze Arbor Park to make room for a development project; 2,269 voted against it. If 92 people had changed their minds, it would have changed the outcome, and Arbor Park would be standing today.

It would have altered the course of downtown development, possibly for generations.

Last week in a mayor's election in Mitchell, S.D., the winner received 1,365 votes and the runner-up received 1,154. The difference was 211 votes, meaning if 106 people had changed their minds, it would have resulted in a different outcome and possibly future course for that city of 15,000.

In Grand Forks in 2016, Katie Dachtler won a seat on the School Board when she received 2,098 votes, edging Tim Lamb, who received 2,065 votes. That's a difference of 33 votes, meaning if 17 people had changed their minds, it would have resulted in a different outcome.

At UND earlier this spring, Grand Forks native Erik Hanson won the presidency of the student body when he received 1,347 votes — just 25 more than runner-up Theresa Hanley. Again, if 13 people had changed their minds, the student body would have a different leader for the coming school year.

We could go on. The Herald archives would give us myriad examples of close elections — elections that were even tighter than the examples we list above — but the point would still be the same: Every person who votes can be a difference-maker in local elections.

Today, voters in Grand Forks will vote for new leaders in various local races, including School Board, County Commission, City Council, state's attorney and municipal judge. Voters also will pare a long list of sheriff's candidates to two.

Turnout today probably will be modest at best — maybe 5,000 or 6,000 voters — since the election isn't buoyed by a large national or state general election. Since we expect a lower turnout today, it means some of these races could come down to just a handful of votes.

It's why it's so important to take a few minutes today to cast a ballot in these smaller, yet very crucial, elections that could help determine the future of so many issues in and around Grand Forks.

Readers, please vote. And employers, please consider allowing your staff a few minutes of paid time to cast a ballot. At the Herald, for instance, employees are encouraged to use company time to vote.

The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today, with voting taking place at the Public Works Facility on North 47th Street, the UND Wellness Center, City Hall, Holy Family Church, Icon Arena, First Presbyterian Church and the Alerus Center.

In some of these races, one vote — your vote — could be the difference.