MARSHALL - Election Day is today, and voters will be asked to decide on issues of local, state, and national importance.
Locally there are proposed sales and hospitality taxes to fund improvements at the MERIT center and the construction and operation of a $12.9 million regional amateur sports complex.
On the state level, proposed amendments to the Constitution would mandate a definition of marriage as between a man and woman, and require establishing voter ID.
On the national level, of course, the people's choice will determine who governs the United States for the next four years.
Potential voters differ in their opinions, not only of the desirability of different candidates and different measures, but also on the relevance and importance of voting.
Cathy Hare is a Marshall resident and long-time political activist and sees all the issues on all levels as interconnected.
"I think all of them are important," Hare said. "I just don't think you can separate them, the importance of the MERIT Center, the sports complex; they're all very important and we should get out and vote. It's our God-given right."
Among younger voters the attention they pay to local issues may reflect how long they've lived in Marshall.
Hannah Kiges is a student at Southwest Minnesota State University, Marshall resident and works on the school newspaper.
"I pay some attention to local questions like the MERIT Center, and I'm very aware of the sports complex," Kiges said. "I think it's important, but not a life-or-death issue for Marshall."
On the subject of the national election, Kiges said, "I think it's really up in the air right now with everything from the economy to foreign policy. I think it's going to be close in every aspect and I don't think there's a single issue that's going to be very clear.
Cody Slieter, a Cottonwood resident, said there was too much confusion to tell what would or wouldn't pass.
Not surprisingly, non-Marshall residents showed the least awareness of local issues on the ballot, and some voters expressed doubt and cynicism about the election.
"I'm not up on local issues," said Adam Hudak from Prior Lake. "Nationally, it's probably been blown out of proportion. Sometimes I wonder if we have any effect at all."
Fellow-student Dan Christenson of Paynesville agreed that everything is blown way out of proportion by the media.
"I want to believe it's important, I want to trust, but somehow I just can't," Christenson said.
Trisha Jerzak from Arco was more blunt.
"Trust?" Jerzak said. "Nope, they're all puppets. If you don't follow the issue, don't vote."
Across the table fellow student Amy Marron of Marshall sharply disagreed.
"If you don't vote, you shouldn't complain," she said, but added, "I don't really know how much can change in four years."
Marshall resident Don Wyffels, asked what he thought about the elections, just shrugged and said, "I don't know what to think about it. We'll get a better idea on what they're going to do when it's over."