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What's most important: I sometimes feel like a kid before Christmas in the lead-up to an election. Even if you're not that enthusiastic, you can take this last week to get all your ducks in a row. Double-check that you're registered, find your polling place and make a plan with a friend or two to head to the ballot box together. 

And don't forget, you can get a refresher on everything you'll see on your ballot — and the impact your vote could have — by searching "The Student Vote Winona" on our website. 

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Know your local issues

There's going to be a referendum question on your ballot next week. Know what it's about? If not, I've got you covered. The Winona public school district is asking for $9.4 million from the taxpayers to take care of some pretty big needs for the schools, like putting in an accessibility ramp to the playground at Jefferson Elementary and repairing pipes that were installed in the 1930s. You can see some photos from inside the buildings and read the story here. 

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Superintendent Rich Dahman looks at a 1930s-era electrical box at Jefferson Elementary, one of many possible maintenance fixes at the school if the $9.4 million referendum is passed.

Also, keep an eye out for election previews from myself and other Daily News reporters that will give you a quick hit on the races for county board, city council and the public school board here in Winona. They'll be out later this week. If you don't have time to read everything, at least read them.

If you want to get to know the candidates a little more, we've put together a voters guide for these local races, complete with candidate profiles — filled out by the candidates themselves — and (for some) a 1-minute video explaining their platform.

State and nation

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I'm going to make sure you've heard of every name you see on your ballot this year. Or rather, the Minneapolis Star Tribune is going to make sure of that. They highlighted two judicial races that haven't gotten much public attention this election cycle, one for a seat on the Minnesota Supreme Court and one on the state's court of appeals. 

At the Supreme Court level, Margaret Chutich, the court's first openly gay justice, will face challenger Michelle MacDonald. MacDonald has a history of legal problems herself, including getting arrested in court during a child custody case. She also said she picked Chutich to challenge because of her sexuality. 

If you feel like time is flying, I agree, because it seems like just yesterday the nation was watching Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testify in hopes of keeping now-U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who she accused of sexual assault, off the bench. An MPR/Star Tribune poll looked at how those events, as well as #MeToo, might affect Minnesotans as they cast their votes. Overall, more of those polled said Kavanaugh's confirmation was more likely to make them vote Democrat than Republican.

The race for governor between DFL candidate Tim Walz and Republican Jeff Johnson has zoomed in on health care in its last week. Both candidates agree that it's the most important issue for Minnesota residents heading into the election, but how do they differ on what it should look like? This article from MinnPost can tell you all about it. 

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U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, DFL gubernatorial candidate, speaks with Jenna Chernega, right, at the Blue Heron Coffeehouse in August.

When Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon came to Winona, he said voter registration rolls in the state are actually more vulnerable to hacking than the Election Day ballots themselves. But nevertheless, his office is working to make sure that no unplanned Hackathon happens next week, which means running lots of public tests of voting machines. "You have to stay one step ahead of the bad guys," he said.

Happy one week till the election, everyone. If you're ambitious you can start coordinating what outfit looks best with that red "I Voted" sticker. Got questions? Let me know at madeline.heim@lee.net or on Twitter @madeline_heim. And don't forget to like the Winona Daily News on Facebook. 

The Student Vote is a weekly roundup of stories to help Winona students cast an informed vote in the 2018 midterm elections.

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