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Early voting reports: long lines and hour-long waits

The line outside the Whittier Park polling place at 9:42 Tuesday morning.
MinnPost photo by Craig Lassig
The line outside the Whittier Park polling place at 9:42 Tuesday morning.

Long lines and hour-long waits greeted some voters at the polls early this morning -- amid conflicting predictions of whether Minnesota’s voter turnout will dip slightly or stay on par with the 2008 presidential race turnout.

After a long and costly election cycle, the polls opened at 7 a.m., and by many accounts, Minnesotans flooded in to cast their ballots. At stake is a tight presidential contest, a not-so-close U.S. Senate race, an up-for-grabs Legislature and two highly divisive constitutional amendments.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie has predicted a voter turnout of just under 80 percent in Minnesota, which is average for presidential elections. It’s unclear whether the reports of long lines — typical when voters are traveling to and from work — represent heightened interest.

“We’ve been hearing reports of very active voting all over the county and we’re very excited about that — everything we’ve been expecting for a presidential election,” Hennepin County Elections Manager Rachel Smith said just before 10 a.m.

Smith, who noted that her predictions could be off, said fewer absentee ballots early on initially indicated to her that turnout could dip. But a surge in the last week suggests “it could be comparable to 2008” in Hennepin County.

Ramsey County Elections Manager Joe Mansky said absentee balloting was down there roughly 20 percent from 2008.

 “I’m not sure what kind of prognosticator I am, and I’m not sure I want to make a living out of this,” he said.  “My thought is our turnout is going to be a little lower.”

But he also reported early morning lines in precincts under his jurisdiction. The Seal Hi-Rise on University Avenue, for instance, drew a line of 80-plus people.

“If you have to wait, our view is, it’s better than having to wait after you’ve gotten off work,” he said about the long early morning lines.

Twitter was abuzz with reports of high turnout and long waits as Tuesday morning progressed.

More than 200 people were lined up outside the VFW on Lyndale Avenue in Uptown Minneapolis ready for an hour-long wait, an MPR reporter tweeted.

 Another tweeter said the number of people waiting in his St. Paul precinct tripled to 100 since he’d arrived.

 Mansky and Smith reported few problems with ballot counters or other routine malfunctions early on, and the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office had no preliminary reports of fraud or voting irregularities.

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Comments (6)

Depends…

My son and daughter-in-law voted in Waite Park at 7 AM, and reported a fair wait and a long line.

My experience in Shingle Creek was different. No line at 10:20, and while the place was busy, a voting booth opened up as soon as I got my ballot. There was plenty of turnover, and lots of people coming and going, but the poll workers had the system down pat, and things proceeded smoothly while I was there. At 10:20, I was voter #437. In the 2010 election, I was voter #18 at about the same time of day.

Voting

I live in the Mac-Groveland area of St Paul and I voted around 8am. I was at my desk in downtown Minneapolis by 8:30am. It was very organized, plus the voting station had clipboards if you didn't mind sitting in a corner fill out your ballot. I'm not sure why in other areas the lines are so long. I can't remember ever having to wait for more than 20 minutes to vote.

Voting in Uptown at Jefferson

Lines were not long about 10:00, but the vote-tally machine was not working....hence, all votes submitted would be counted manually. Spouse voted somewhat later; word was that the precinct had requested a new machine.

Fewer Polling Places?

I live in the Central Neighborhood in Minneapolis and was assigned a new polling place this year. I queued up at around 9:40 am and did not turn in my ballot until 10:50. Everyone was patient and neighborly throughout the long wait. My wife reported being line for 40 minutes when she voted an hour and a half earlier. I was number 950. At my old polling place, I don't think I ever waited more than 10 minutes. I heard that with redistricting, there are fewer polling places in the city. I suppose that has something to do with the long lines, but I'm hoping that the waits also due to big turnout.

voting lines

I voted at Jimmy Lee recreation center on Lexington and Iglehart and there were lines, not long, but it looked like it could have been better organized. The only line was for the M-R (I think it was) while the 3 others places had no lines. But I was happy to see the numbers and when I voted about 11 or so, my vote was 1071.
There are fewer polling places but I don't know what redistricting has to do with it. I used to vote at what is now Obama Service School, then was moved to MLK center, and then to Jimmy Lee which is over a mile away--the first time I didn't walk to my polling place. These polling places should be reconfigured and increased. Some of my neighbors do not have cars.

Greater vs Lesser MN

As always in Winona's second ward, no line and two open booths of a dozen or so this morning. Paper ballots, fill in the oval and feed in the counter.