Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie was leaving his eighth and final polling place, getting ready to head back to his office, when MinnPost caught up with him via cell after 3 p.m. today.
“I’m hearing more or less the same everywhere,” Ritchie said. “Long lines in the early morning, then a steady flow for the rest of the day.”
Ritchie said most delays in the morning were an hour, or two, tops. He had heard of lines throughout the day at some spots in south Minneapolis and expected a crush of voters again after work.
“The election judges also have the absentee ballots, and will start using the optical scan to enter those this afternoon,” Ritchie said.
Not all was perfect: one polling place in St. Paul lost power after a driver knocked down a nearby power line. “This being Minnesota and we have winter, they were trained for this,” Ritchie said of the election officials, noting that Minnesota uses paper ballots that can still be filled out even with no power.
As for reports that some voters who thought they were registered and found out they weren’t, Ritchie was relatively unconcerned, citing the state’s same-day voter registration, and some normal explanations, like people at the wrong polling place or change-of-address issues.
“I haven’t heard of any widespread problems, and we’ll have up to 600,000 same day registrants today,” he said.
As for the goal of turning out 80 per cent of all eligible voters, some 3 million people, around the state, Ritchie said the goal was in sight.
“If evening turnout is anything like the morning turnout, we’ll hit that and go above it,” Ritchie said. “And if you are in line at 8 tonight, you will vote.”
As for the matter of a tight, toss-up U.S. Senate race, Ritchie promises results on that “before dawn.” Then, if there is a difference of less than one-half per cent, his office automatically does a recount. If it’s more than one-half of a per cent, a candidate can request a recount at the candidate’s expense — or even a partial one.
By Ritchie’s estimation, it would take a week for such a request to be certified, and another week of recounting — so a dead heat would take two weeks to clear up.
“But generally we expect to get all results tonight,” Ritchie concluded. “Even with this turnout. It’s historic. It’s the place to be.”