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COMMENTARY: Attend League of Women Voters' local candidate forums

One of the easiest ways to become an informed voter is to go to the Secretary of State's website ( to see who will be on your ballot.

(While you are there, you can also register to vote and find out the many ways Minnesota provides access to voting.)

Many of the names of candidates will be highlighted and take you to the candidates' websites where you can see what issues are important to them.

The deluge of TV and radio advertisements that we are beginning to see are not the best sources to find out information about candidates. Some ads are done by Political Action Committees (PACs), who may have unstated interests.

Many ads may have an element of truth, but it may be distorted. For example, many ads refer to "yes" or "no" votes that incumbent candidates have made on issues. These votes may refer to the name of a bill, but do not give you the reasons a candidate voted or did not vote on an issue. The bill may not do what it says or may have provisions in it that a candidate opposes.

An even better way to get information is to attend candidate forums or debates that are being put on by many different groups. Rural residents are often at a disadvantage in having access to many of these debates. Watch candidates' websites or Facebook pages for information when they might be in your area. Then often you have a chance to ask your own questions, too.

For local candidates, the Park Rapids League of Women Voters (PRLWV) hosts candidate forums for contested local elections as well as for Minnesota State House and Senate. These forums will be held in September through October. You can find notices for them in the Park Rapids Enterprise, the Chamber calendar, Volunteer Park Rapids Area calendar and the PRLWV website. You are encouraged to submit questions.

Questions are sorted by PRLWV members for relevance to the position and politeness, addressed to all candidates and then selected according to interest expressed by the most people. Some questions that are on similar topics are combined. It is rare that there is enough time for all questions. If your question isn't answered, stay afterwards to ask your question. Most candidates remain to talk to potential constituents.

Four forums have already been confirmed. The forum for State House Districts 2A and 2B will be at 6 p.m. on Oct. 2 at Northwoods Bank. At 6 p.m. on Oct. 4, the county commissioners (Districts 1 and 3) forum will be held at CHI St. Joseph's Health. Two forums for Hubbard County Sheriff will be at 7 p.m. on Sept. 27 at Guthrie Town Hall and 6 p.m. on Oct. 18 at Northwoods Bank. More details on local forums can be found at " target="_blank">