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Vogt's Notes: Be a responsible voter by gathering facts

As anyone who reads newspapers - or watches TV, or listens to the radio, or collects mail from the mailbox, or notices billboards along the highways - knows, election season is in full swing.

As anyone who reads newspapers - or watches TV, or listens to the radio, or collects mail from the mailbox, or notices billboards along the highways - knows, election season is in full swing.

We voters are being bombarded with information. We read stories in the newspaper and online. We see political advertisements on TV and hear them on the radio. We pull flyers and pamphlets from our mailboxes along with the regular bills and junk mail every day. We see smiling politicians in giant size on billboards.

It's up to us as voters to decide what to do with all this information.

We invite readers to look inside today's Echo Journal for our Voter's Guide to the 2016 Election. You'll find information about local candidates that you might not find anywhere else.

Our guide doesn't have information about the presidential election - you get plenty of that elsewhere. Our focus is our local races - including city councils, school boards, county boards and state legislative races in our coverage area.

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Please know that because of space constraints, our election guide doesn't include information about those candidates who are running unopposed on the ballot. Yes, their reasons for running and their views of important issues facing their communities are important. Unfortunately, we just don't have room in the guide to include them.

We asked local candidates who have opposition three basic questions: Why are you running for office? What are the most important issues facing your community? Specifically, how would you address those issues?

Also because of limited space and to be fair across the board, we asked each candidate to answer each question in 50 words or less. That's not a lot of words, but it forces candidates to get their ideas across succinctly.

Our staff worked diligently to receive responses from all candidates by sending several emails and making several phone calls to touch base with everyone. However, a few candidates chose not to respond or weren't able to be reached.

Our voter's guide is no money-maker. But we continue to publish it each election year because we truly believe the information is so important to our voting readers.

So please don't cast it aside. Take a look at what candidates on your ballot have to say. We hope it will help you make informed and responsible choices at the polls.

If you don't recognize names on your ballot or don't know who to for Nov. 8, please leave that race blank on your ballot. There's nothing wrong with not voting for every race.

Our best advice remains to educate yourself about all candidates on your ballot. Visit the Minnesota Secretary of State website ( www.sos.state.mn.us ) to find out who will be on your ballot, and then gather more information about your candidates to make informed choices.

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You can start by taking a look at our Voter's Guide to the 2016 Election.

Also, please remember that when writing letters to the editor to endorse a particular candidate, our policy is that those letters be 150 words or less (our normal letter policy is 300 words or less), and letter writers may endorse a particular candidate only once. The last day we will publish endorsement letters is Thursday, Oct. 27.

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