Minnesota primary focusing on voter safety, mail-in voting

Published: Aug. 11, 2020 at 8:42 PM CDT
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WORTHINGTON, M.N. (Dakota News Now) -Tuesday was primary election day in Minnesota, but casting a ballot looked a little different this time around due to COVID-19.

The focus this year was on safety. Safety screens were set up and voters were required to wear a mask. Hand sanitizer stations were also available. And voting booths were cleaned after each use. 

Voters could also opt for curbside voting, so that they wouldn’t have to leave their car. Election judges say it’s been a smooth process. 

“Very good, everybody really understands. They understand COVID is here and that we have to keep ourselves safe,” said Linda Kuhle, Head Election Judge. 

While some people voted in person, Nobles County Auditor-Treasurer Joyce Jacobs says mail-in ballots were a popular choice. 

“Out of our 40 precincts here in Nobles County, we have 16 that are still doing traditional polling places. The rest have all gone to mail ballots,” said Jacobs. 

In Minnesota, any precinct with less than 400 registered voters can choose this option.

“We actually saw an increase in mail balloting over the years. Not only because of COVID, but it’s just harder for us to find election judges because people are busy with their jobs,” said Jacobs.

Because of COVID-19, the Nobles County Government Center also had a drop box at their building for ballots. 

Jacobs says one positive of mail ballot precincts is that they’ve had a better voter rate of return than traditional polling places.

“In the March presidential primary we had here in Minnesota, those who had a traditional polling place had 11 percent of their voters actually come to the polls. While those who used mail ballots had 36 percent of theirs return their mail ballots,” said Jacobs. 

Mail-in ballots have been especially helpful in rural precincts. 

“Because it’s easier for them. Because they’re probably in town at a job and it’s easier for them to mail their ballots back versus always getting to their polling place out in their rural precinct,” said Jacobs. 

Jacobs says it may take a few days for the county’s to get results. Any absentee ballots received Wednesday or Thursday will need to be counted as long as they’re postmarked by August 11th, election day.

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