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Absentee ballots and write-in votes have election officials working hard

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News Willmar, 56201
West Central Tribune
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Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

Absentee ballots slowed the counting of the vote from Tuesday's general election, and an apparent technical glitch slowed down the reporting of election results.

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The Minnesota Secretary of State's website has become the primary method of publishing results on election night in the state, but partway through the evening, election officials in area counties informed the West Central Tribune that they were unable to enter their results on the website.

Swift County Auditor Byron Giese said Wednesday they had an issue for the first few hours of being locked out from entering results on the Secretary of State website.

"About 10 p.m. or 10:30 p.m., we were able to do manual inputs," he said. "We were done about 2 a.m."

Kandiyohi County officials also were dealing with the technical problems. Most of the county's ballots were electronically counted, and a printed summary of those results was provided to the Tribune late Tuesday when it became clear the Secretary of State's website was not receiving the information.

A slowdown in Kandiyohi County's overall tabulation happened because about 300 absentee ballots had to be hand-counted by the absentee ballot board.

Those 300 ballots came from 29 different precincts, said Auditor Sam Modderman. With an extremely long two-sided ballot to count, plus write-in candidates, the tedious process took longer than expected. In fact, the absentee ballot board did not finish the counting until about noon Wednesday.

Most of the absentee ballots cast in the county were electronically counted. But Modderman said an early decision was made to hand-count absentee ballots in low-voter precincts to save money by not having additional memory cards programmed and tested.

In the future, Modderman said the extra expense will be incurred so that all the ballots can be quickly tabulated electronically.

Absentee ballots presented some difficulties in Swift County as well, Giese said, but write-in votes are what have election officials there working hard.

Write-in votes will decide some races -- no one filed for mayor or the two council posts in DeGraff.

The canvassing board will continue counting write-ins this Friday, and Giese said they have seven more days to complete that task -- until Nov. 12.

"It's not like when we had all paper. ... It's a learning process," he said.

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