An organized mess

Voting as a Minnesotan while living in Wisconsin

McKenna Dirks

More stories from McKenna Dirks

3rd and Vine
April 5, 2022

Being a legal resident of Minnesota — but attending a university in Wisconsin — can become tricky when voting. 

For this upcoming presidential election, I voted early in person via an absentee ballot. 

However, I didn’t mail my vote in. 

I got the application for an absentee ballot back in September and it sat on my desk for weeks going unnoticed. I’ll be honest, it got lost in my stack of papers full of notes for my classes.

Don’t get me wrong, this election — like any other election — is extremely important, especially for getting all eligible voters to vote. I just had other things occupying my mind at the moment. 

As the middle of October hit and I was hearing and seeing more about the election — whether that be on T.V., the radio, yard signs, Facebook, you name it… I started to panic. I knew I had to vote, I just didn’t know how I was going to do it at this point. 

I was already hearing it was too late to mail an absentee ballot in because USPS recommended mailing it at least two weeks in advance, so that wasn’t an option because I hadn’t even filled out my application for it yet. 

My only other option was to vote in person in Minnesota itself. This is probably the worst option for me, as I’m a full-time student and I work full-time. I didn’t think I was going to make it to vote. 

Then, a miracle happened: my car broke. 

This might not sound like a miracle to some, but it gave me a valid reason to go home. I do have some reliable body shops in Eau Claire I could have gone to, but their prices weren’t as reasonable — compared to one run by a family friend in my hometown. 

The mechanic said it would take about a week to fix and that was perfect. It was a little over a week from election day. 

So a week-ish goes by and I’m back home to pick up my car and vote. Then I hit another bump in the road: Election day is Tuesday, Sept. 3 and I have to work at 12 p.m. that day in Eau Claire. 

My first thought was, what if the polls are so busy and take longer than I expected, and what if traffic is backed up because of ongoing construction on Interstate 94? It takes a little over two hours to get from my hometown to Eau Claire, so this would be a risky move. 

I asked my mom Sunday morning of election week if there was any possible way I could vote early on Monday, Sept. 2 to avoid this additional stress. Thankfully, she said there was. 

A note: For anyone who doesn’t know much about voting, ask questions. The answers will never be found if questions aren’t asked. 

So I went to my hometown’s government building to fill out my absentee ballot application to vote early.

This way, I didn’t have to worry about my vote not being counted — I was assured many times my vote is being counted — and I didn’t risk being late for work because I traveled back to Eau Claire late Monday night. 

My voting experience was stressful, but I am fulfilled because I did my duty as a citizen — not to mention my right as a woman because women fought for the right to vote for many years. 

After a moment of stress, there is more stress to come as we wait for the final results of the election. 

Happy voting.

Dirks can be reached at [email protected]