Now, it’s up to the voters

by Tom Coombe

Bush or Kerry? Breaker or Dill? Salerno or Skraba?<BR><BR>The answers, finally, are in your hands.<BR><BR>The seemingly endless barrage of television, radio and newspaper advertisements, letters to the editor, public meetings and on-the-street discussions will be over in less than 24 hours, when decisions in an emotionally-charged election campaign go to the voters.<BR><BR>Polls open in four Ely precincts, neighboring townships and around the state at 7 a.m. Tuesday.<BR><BR>And if tradition holds true, local residents will turn out in droves, at a much higher percentage than citizens around the state or around the country.<BR><BR>While national turnout usually hovers around 50 percent, the big question in Ely is whether or not the city will match its 2000 effort - when 87 percent of the city’s voters cast ballots.<BR><BR>Turnout was high in other area precincts during the last presidential year as well, with Morse, Fall Lake, Babbitt and Winton all in the neighborhood of 85 percent.<BR><BR>Interest is likely to be high again, with voters weighing in on the hotly-contested presidential race between Repulican George Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry.<BR><BR>Heading into the last weekend of the campaign, polls show an even race, both nationally and in Minnesota, one of about a dozen battleground states that could tip the election one way or the other.<BR><BR>The presidential race is just one of many choices facing local voters this week. <BR><BR>Other key races of interest include:<BR><BR>• A State House race between Democratic incument David Dill and his Republican foe - Elyite Marty Breaker;<BR><BR>• The Ely mayoral vote involving incumbent Frank Salerno and former council member Roger Skraba;<BR><BR>• A five-way race for three city council seats, with incumbents Paul Kess, Jerome Debeltz and Mark Zupec on the ballot along with Chuck Novak and Patrick Osaben;.<BR><BR>Voters have been deluged in the closing days, not only with advertisements, but with campaign visits as well. Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards rallied in Hibbing two weeks ago and came to Duluth Thursday, while Vice President Dick Cheney was in International Falls last week. Interior Secretary Gale Norton stumped for Bush in Canyon in mid-October.<BR><BR>Kerry, Bush and Cheney have all campaigned in northern Minnesota earlier in the year.<BR><BR>Polling places are open until 8 p.m., with precincts in place at four Ely locations (the Ely Community Center, Sibley Manor, Government Services Center (former Kennedy School), and the Pioneer Apartments. Winton residents can cast ballots at the community church, and Morse, Fall Lake and Eagles Nest township voting takes place at their respective town halls.<BR><BR>Ely residents can contact the clerk’s office at 365-3224 to find out where they must vote. To be eligible, a person must be at least 18 years of age, a citizen of the United States, and a resident for at least 20 days. <BR><BR>