Polls now open, some voters to decide on school referendums in addition to candidates

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Polls are beginning to open across the country, and soon, Minnesotans and Wisconsinites will be joining them.

Election officials are expecting a big day after a solid early voting turnout that broke records across the country.

Data shows more than 43 million people already voted in the United States. In Minnesota, nearly 590,000 votes were cast early, and national data shows more Democrats have voted early than Republicans.

RELATED: Midterm early voting at record numbers nationwide

If you’re voting Tuesday and still need to register to vote, you can do so at your polling place. Make sure to bring proof of where you live, such as a driver’s license or a bill.

If you still have your mail-in ballot, you’ll need to drop that off in person by 3 p.m. for it to count.

Depending on where you’re at, you’ll vote on everything from school board members to governor as candidates make their final push to get voters to the polls.

RELATED: Candidate Profiles for the 2022 election

“Candidates are pushing hard today to get out voters. Can have a huge impact, maybe because I think we’re going to have some very close elections both statewide and in those state legislative races, which in the past have often been decided very closely – few 100, thousand, even dozens of votes make the difference,” said Larry Jacobs, a political science professor at the University of Minnesota.

RELATED: Everything you need to know about voting in the 2022 midterm elections

In addition to candidates, some Minnesotans will be considering dozens of school referendums, which is down from past elections, according to Kirk Schneidawind, the executive director of the Minnesota School Boards Association. The Association is a nonprofit that advocates for public education.

Schneidawind says many districts are also waiting to see what happens in the 2023 legislative session to see if they’ll get extra revenue there.

Some of the districts with referendums on the ballot include Bloomington, which is asking voters for $9.8 million per year for 10 years to pay for capital projects.

This would be a renewal of the current operating referendum.

Eden Prairie is asking for $9.3 million over 10 years.

Osseo is asking voters for $11.1 million for the next 10 years to go toward technology needs.

“I think the very real possibility is that our operating referendums have become part of our school district budgets, so much now more than they ever have been, that the districts, if they do not pass the operating referendum – whether it’s a renewal or they’re seeking more – may be looking at reductions in programs and student opportunities if those referendums do not pass,” said Schneidawind.

There are 34 school districts across the state seeking approval on operating referendums, and another 22 districts are looking for taxpayer-funded bonds to pay for things such as school updates and technology needs.

Minnesota School Boards Association says that is down, and there are a couple of reasons for that.

“I think school districts recognize there’s a lot on the ballot, perhaps, and they don’t want to get crowded out by the other state offices, local elections,” said Schneidawind, “and maybe want to look at a different election date where they can shine a light on the district.”

The legislature caps operating referendums at 10 years, so if a district doesn’t pass a renewal, the funds will expire.

Before heading out to the polls, you’re urged to look up your polling place, since some places will be different due to new district lines.

CLICK HERE to find your polling place.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.

As previously reported, some polling places will see federal agents from the Department of Justice to make sure there is compliance with civil rights standards while polls are open.

Agents will be at polling places in Minneapolis, as well as Hennepin and Ramsey Counties, to make sure voters are able to cast ballots free from discrimination or intimidation, and that people with disabilities have all necessary accommodations.

CLICK HERE for KSTP’s complete elections coverage.

Watch the video below for an analysis of the 2022 midterm elections from David Schultz, a political science professor at Hamline University.

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