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Redistricting Prompting Some Voter Confusion, but no Major Problems, Election Judges Report

Turnout and same-day voter registrations have been steady all day at a number of precincts in Apple Valley and Rosemount; 'brisk' turnout reported in Eagan,

 

Voters in Apple Valley and Rosemount queued up steadily all morning and afternoon, with only minor glitches reported and no particularly lengthy waits.

At Precinct 8, Greenleaf Elementary School in Apple Valley, judges were prepared for longer lines after voters got off work: a makeshift switchback was set up in the school gym, using orange traffic cones draped with yellow "Caution" tape.

But at 3:30 p.m., the switchback wasn't yet necessary. Precinct 8 head judge Cynthia McDonald said the precinct customarily gets about an 80 percent turnout, and by midafternoon, the number was "inching up" to 75 percent.

Redistricting confused a few voters at McDonald's precinct, because until this year, the precinct included only voters who live east of Galaxie Avenue. This year, a few voters west of Galaxie were thrown into the Precinct 8 mix.

At Precinct 14, in the Apple Valley Municipal Center, head election judge Cami Dirnberger said officials handled one curbside vote earlier in the day.

The voter, severely disabled, was unable to leave his car, so Dirnberger -- a DFLer -- and one of her co-judges, a Republican, took his ballot out to him and waited while he filled in his choices.

The lines were steady at Precinct 14 at about 4 p.m.; one line was for people waiting to register, and another for people already registered. Dirnberger stood at the entrance and smoothly redirected people to the appropriate lines, apologizing for the longer line for those with last names toward the end of the alphabet.

At Apple Valley's Precinct 6, the Augustana Health Care Center, head election judge Linda Paseka said she usually sees about 1,000 voters for a presidential election, and the precinct was on pace to match that number this year.

UPDATED, 2:50 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 6:

Election officials in at least two of Eagan's voting precincts said redistricting has caused some confusion among Eagan voters, who showed at the wrong polling place, only to be redirected to other locations.

Barbara-Ann March, an election judge in Eagan's Precinct 6A, said election staff at the polling station had to send a limited number of voters to other precincts. Redistricting, which occurs once every decade following a national census, reshuffled many of Eagan's voting precincts last spring.

Despite the difficulties, nearly 886 people had voted as of 1 p.m. at March's polling station in the Eagan Civic Arena. March, an election judge since 2002, said she was surprised by the number of same-day registrations this year. In Precinct 6A, 125 people registered and voted on Tuesday, March said.

Down the road at Thomas Lake Elementary School, election supervisor Pam Schmitz said she's seen "average" turnout, and blames the slower pace in Precinct 11 on redistricting. When the precinct's boundaries were redrawn, several high-density residential locations, like the Thomas Lake Pointe apartment complex, were excluded from the precinct, Schmitz said. Only 700 of the roughly 1,300 registered voters in the precinct had cast ballots as of 1:30 p.m.

Like March, Schmitz said a number of voters had to be redirected to other polling stations due to redistricting confusion.

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POSTED 12:31 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 6:

Coffee and chocolate.

That's what election judge Susan Shumer is relying on to get her through Election Day this year. Shumer, who staffs the polling place at Pilot Knob STEM Magnet School in Eagan's first precinct, said turnout at her station has been steady on Tuesday morning.

Roughly 10 percent of the precinct's 769 registered voters turning out in the first hour, Shumer and fellow judge Lynn O'Gorman said, with approximately 20 same-day registrations through 9:15 a.m. at the polling place.

Shumer and O'Gorman's observations were echoed in at least two other precincts this morning, where election judges are seeing a constant flow of voters.

"It's been brisk," said Jeff Kamm, a judge for Eagan's second precinct. In the first hour of voting, judges at the second precinct station at the Eagan Community Center saw 226 voters—slightly less than 10 percent of the total number of voters registered in the precinct.

Over in the third precinct, a total of 550 voters had cast ballots through mid-morning, with 55 same-day registrations, according to election judge Rob Shumer. A total of 1,864 voters are registered in that precinct, Rob Shumer said. So far, voting in the third precinct was proceeding smoothly, with no hiccups or complications, he added.

University of Wisconsin-River Falls students Kelly Kommer, Zanda Ra, Tyler Kerber and Kristine Gates were among the voters at the third precinct Tuesday morning.

All four are Eagan residents, and traveled from Wisconsin specifically to vote against the marriage and Voter ID amendments, Kommer said.

"The marriage and voter restriction amendments were very important," Gates said. "You can't complain about the government unless you've done something to change it."

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