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By now you should have noticed that there’s an election coming up. If you haven’t, I have to wonder how come, but I digress. According to what I’ve seen so far there aren’t any sin-free candidates to choose from. Although some candidates are doing all they can in hopes of getting voters to think they can walk on water none of them can and anyone who tries either sinks under their own weight or gets torpedoed by their opposition.

Over the years I’ve found that most folks running for public office are regular folks just like you and me. The difference is that they have volunteered to endure an excruciating campaign trying to convince that voting for them would be a good thing and we get to watch all the contortions each of them is willing to go through.

By this point campaigns seem to turn into white background noise and a lot of voters have done their best to tune it all out. This is especially so for folks like me who have already made up our minds on who and what we’re voting for.

After somehow successfully winning nine elections (thanks to my constituents for the opportunity to serve) I’ve had to conclude that my success has more to do with never overestimating the intelligence of the voter than it does for my accomplishments. Name recognition is a key to electoral success, or as many politicians have reminded us, that they don’t care what’s said about them as long as they spell their name correctly.

I recall my campaigns for the Legislature. I was and still am a Democrat who ran for a House seat and we were just about as popular in the ’80s as we are now. I knocked on every door in town; it took 10 weeks at around three hours a day. I had over 300 lawn signs out and I also found whatever parade I could get into and made it a point to be noticed. I stood in front of more groups and answered more questions about my intentions if elected than I could ever recall. It was hard work.

Anyway, I truly believe that all politics are local so here’s a little test for you. I’ll name the candidates for local/state offices and you can see if you know what office they’re running for.

• Jim Boehm, Andy Zachmeier, Jackie Buckley.

• Dave Shipman, Kyle Kirchmeier.

• Mac Schneider, Kelly Armstrong.

• Rachel Hall, Karen Rohr, Jim Schmidt, Don Schaible.

• Gabrielle Goter, Allen Koppy.

Then as a bonus round, what are each of the four initiated measures (1-2-3-4) on the statewide ballot about?

Finally, how do you vote when you have no idea who any given candidate or issue is? I’d suggest that if it’s a partisan office that you vote party line; if it’s not a party office (think city commission, school board, county commission) then what? Google N.D. Secretary of State and it’s all there somewhere.

So here’s the point of all this: Less than 30 percent of eligible voters vote, which means that a minority of us decide for the majority of us. That is not the sign of a healthy democracy, therefore I encourage you to not only figure out who/what you’ll vote for, I hope you encourage others to do the same — and don’t forget to vote.

Answers: Morton County Commission, Morton County sheriff, U.S. House of Representatives, legislative District 31, Morton County state’s attorney. Measure 1, ethics commission; Measure 2, must be a U.S. citizen to vote (by the way, it’s already N.D. law); Measure 3, legalizes pot; Measure 4, special license plates for emergency responders.

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Dan Ulmer is a parent, grandparent, as well as a retired teacher, counselor, politician, lobbyist, public employee, nonprofit executive and opinionated citizen who believes that we need to do what we can to leave the world better off than we found it.

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