Your Voice Counts!

Vital Civic Engagement in 2020
By Brittney Marschall

2020 Census
An accurate and complete 2020 Census count is vital to our community and state. Census data is used to determine funding for programs and projects ranging from early childhood education to senior nutrition. Here are some of the most important things to know. 

Who gets counted?
Everyone! The census is mandated by the U.S. Constitution and counts all people who reside in the country, regardless of citizenship or immigration status.

How do I get counted?
Online, by telephone or via mail. This is the first Census to go digital, so you can fill out your household survey on your home computer, phone or tablet or even at the public library!

When is the Census?
Starting in March 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau will mail letters to every household inviting all to respond to the Census survey. Surveys should be completed by Census Day on April 1, 2020. 

Why do we have a census?
The data collected from the Census is used to make sure everyone is equally represented in our political system and that government resources are allocated fairly. Census data determines how many Congressional seats a state receives and how much federal funding will be allocated to local communities for public services and infrastructure needs. It also provides a picture of the changing demographics of the country.

2020 Elections
There are three major election events in 2020:
• March 3, 2020: Presidential nomination primary
• August 11, 2020: State and local primary
• November 3, 2020: General election

Legislation was passed in 2016 which established a presidential nomination primary for Minnesota starting in 2020. This means instead of using the caucus system to identify preferred presidential candidates for the state’s four major parties, Minnesota will now conduct a primary, administered by election officials on behalf of the parties, to help select each party’s preferred candidate for the November general election. Each party is responsible for deciding which candidates will appear on their primary ballot. 

The Minnesota presidential nomination primary will be held March 3, although absentee voting for this primary begins January 17, both by mail and in person. 

Register to Vote
In order to participate in the 2020 elections, you must be a registered voter. Visit to learn more about registering or call Olmsted County Elections at 507-328-7650.

Selecting your political party affiliation
All who would vote in the presidential nomination primary, including early absentee voters, must select a political party and will receive the ballot for their party of choice. The party you choose is not public information, though it will be available to each major party.

Election judges needed
If you are looking for a way to get more involved in the political process, consider becoming an election judge. Election judges are always needed to fulfill duties such as opening and closing the polls on Election Day, aiding voters, ensuring only qualified voters are permitted to vote and certifying precinct election results.

Election judges are paid for their work. The pay rate is set by cities, townships and school districts. If you’re interested in becoming an election judge, complete an online application by visiting Olmsted County: or City of Rochester:

“Civic engagement
means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes.”
– Thomas Ehrlich (Ed.) Civic Responsibility and Higher Education.