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Golden Quill: Duff, Brown honored for election-related letters

The REaders' Board issued a shared election-theme Golden Quill for June.

Board members said that "Obstacles make voting difficult for some" and "Go with ranked-choice voting next city election" — both published June 15 — packed a nice educational punch after Red Wing’s special mayoral election.

Access polls

Carol Duff questioned why there is no Jordan Towers polling place anymore. She also challenged the community to make it easier for the elderly and those with disabilities to vote.

State law allows bringing ballots to nursing homes, but the exemption doesn’t apply to assisted-living and community-style building that are attracting more and more of today’s seniors.

And these are the people who vote, REaders’ Board members noted.

This begs the question: Will we do something about this or are we willing to let the democratic process suffer?

Citizens can work to change the law. They can advocate use of absentee ballots and make it easier for seniors to get the ballots. Communities also can advocate zoning rules and city comprehensive plans that place such residences nearer polling sites or vice versa.

“With the aging society, it is probably prudent for planners to consider this,” said board member Jake Goering, who is CEO of St. Crispin Living Community.

Duff reported that several people commented about reading her letter about voting obstacles.

“I got a thank you from some Jordan Tower resident for looking out for them. I also got comments from people who didn't know that there was a difference in privileges between the various places that the elderly chose to live,” Duff said.

A City Council member commented that when Red Wing reduced the number of precincts in each ward to two and consolidated polling places,  several people  involved in the decision thought Jordan Towers would have assisted, on-site voting.

“It was only later that they learned of the differences in classification,” Duff said. “There is much that goes into encouraging all citizens to vote.”

A true majority

Evan Brown wrote the ranked-choice letter. Readers’ Board members said he did a good job informing voters how this ensures a majority winner.

 “The feedback I got back was agreement with the idea that with so many candidates, the winning candidate came away with many more people voting for someone else — along with understanding that winning with such a low percentage of the vote may not adequately capture the will of the voters,” Brown said. “RCV addresses these problems.”

We reprint both the letters here.

Honorable mention

The Readers’ Board also awarded a honorable mention to the Goodhue County Soil & Water Conservation District Board.

“Cover crops help protect the soil” appeared June 19. The five SWCD supervisors — Larry Thomforde, Donald Banks, Paul Voxland, John Jaege and Ed McNamara — gave solid reasons for why farmers should take a certain course of action, but also helped educate the public about farming and the environment.