What may be the most unique election in Grand Forks history is wrapping up, and the deadline for voters is fast approaching.
Our advice a few weeks ago was to hold off on mail-in voting to get the most up-to-date information available on all of the candidates. Our advice today is the opposite: Vote now, and mail in your ballot.
All Grand Forks County ballots must be postmarked by June 8 to qualify for the election, which technically is June 9. The mail-in process is due to the coronavirus pandemic and concerns that bringing people together en masse could promote more spread of the virus.
We agree with the approach. Not everybody does.
President Trump considers mail-in elections corrupt.
“I think that mail-in voting is a terrible thing,” he said. “If you vote, you should go. … There is a lot of dishonesty going on with mail-in voting.”
During a pandemic, however, we disagree. Mail-in voting is a way to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the illness that results from coronavirus infection. Given the information election officials had at the time of the decision, it was the best one to make. Going forward, however, we believe elections should return to their traditional format.
In the meantime, it’s important that local voters who have not yet done so fill out their ballots and promptly return them.
For those who wish to do so, they still can physically drop them off in a box that’s located in the county parking ramp, located in downtown Grand Forks. However, those ballots must be returned by 4 p.m. on June 9. Otherwise, mailed ballots must be postmarked no later than June 8.
Following are key portions of the Grand Forks ballot:
Mayor: The choice is between Mike Brown and challengers Brandon Bochenski and Robin David. Also, there is a spot on the ballot to accommodate a write-in candidate; in Grand Forks’ case, Art Bakken has waged a write-in campaign after he said he could not get the requisite number of signatures due to the pandemic.
School Board: In one race, voters must choose from three candidates for a single two-year term. They are Brad Raymond, Linda G. Jenkins and Christopher Douthit.
In the other School Board race, voters must decide among five candidates for four 4-year terms. The candidates in that race are Amber Flynn, Jeff Manley, Eric R. Lunn, Lee Hensrud and Cynthia Schabb.
Local voters also will be asked whether the city and the school should continue to be required to publish proceedings and financial information in the Herald. Yes, this is done at public expense – as noted on the city version of the ballot – but the ballot doesn’t mention that the cost is only a small fraction of just 1% of the overall budget. By our math, the cost to the city to publish this data is .00006% of the budget.
It’s important to continue publishing this information, since it’s the best way to ensure that the documents not only are presented regularly to the public, but also to ensure that an independent organization keeps this information safe for the sake of history.