The election of township supervisors, clerks and treasurers will draw people to the polls Tuesday across Minnesota.
In Crow Wing County, Deerwood Township residents will vote on a measure that would make the clerk position an appointive one rather than an elected one.
Judy Hamilton is currently the clerk. She was deputy clerk from 1998 until she took over the clerk's job on Sept. 1.
"No one is running so if I lose it will be pretty humiliating," she said. If township residents approve the change to make it appointed the election results will be set aside and the town board will appoint a clerk.
Hamilton said township residents voted to place the question on the ballot a year ago at the town meeting. The idea was that an appointed clerk would provide continuity and could still be dismissed if the board was unhappy with the person's job performance.
All the township polls close at 8 p.m. Poll opening hours vary with each township. Townships will conduct their annual meetings on Tuesday also.
"It puts power in the hands of the people,'' said Monica Dwyer Abress, chair of the board of supervisors in Lent Township, in Chisago County.
''The annual budget is determined by the people,'' she said. ''The major issues are voted on by the people. There's not a city council sitting there saying, 'This is the way we're going to do it and you're going to have to live with it.'''
Abress will be in charge of what is expected to be a packed and heated annual meeting. This year, she'll try to convince the people to accept a 70 percent increase in their tax levy.
''It's really scary,'' she said.
Most of Tuesday's meetings will be quiet, and most elections for township offices are uncontested. Of the dozens of elections taking place in the 18 townships in Wright County, for example only a handful have more than one candidate.
Township government is an aspect of Minnesota life that is well known to the 900,000 or so who live in one. To the rest, it's all but invisible.
That's one reason Abress wrote her book, titled ''Quietly at Work.''
''There are actually people who are elected officials in the state of Minnesota who don't even know what a township is,'' Abress said. ''Can you imagine?''
Townships are the governing bodies for those parts of the state, mostly rural, that aren't governed by cities. They take care of the basics such as roads and fire protection. Many associate them with flannel shirts and feed caps. But in some parts of the state, such as lake country or the suburban fringes, they have Web sites and modern buildings.
The issues they face are microcosms of much wider trends.
Some townships in the more troubled agricultural areas are emptying out. In other areas, townships are growing. There are expected to be a couple of new townships soon in St. Louis County, as people move into a previously lightly settled forest area. And in the Twin Cities area, where sprawl is pushing thousands out onto what had been farm fields, townships may deal with issues identical to those of cities.
In farm country, meanwhile, townships are much the same as always. They are places where the township hall phone, if there is one, might only be answered one morning a week.
''We're south of Annandale and still basically ag, though there are a few lakes,'' said John Uecker, a supervisor of Albion Township in Wright County. ''There's not a lot of growth now, and the feeling I'm getting is, people still want to keep it ag in this area. That's what I'm getting, anyhow.''
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.