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Election judges Nancy Hammerschmidt, left, and Bruce Heymer check a ballot Thursday at the Kandiyohi County Office Building in Willmar. Local election officials worked through 16 absentee ballots rejected for various reasons during last month's general election. Tribune photo by Bill Zimmer

Rejected absentee ballots in U.S. Senate race sorted by Kandiyohi County officials

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region Willmar,Minnesota 56201 http://www.wctrib.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/fieldimages/1/1130/20081212121108ballotsorting10.jpg?itok=M1GYDns5
West Central Tribune
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Rejected absentee ballots in U.S. Senate race sorted by Kandiyohi County officials
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

WILLMAR -- The reasons why 16 absentee ballots were rejected in Kandiyohi County during the general election were confirmed Thursday morning.

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As part of the state recount for the U.S. Senate seat, two certified election judges representing two different political parties agreed the 16 ballots were legitimately rejected in November.

The judges agreed that none of the ballots was mistakenly rejected.

After examining each ballot, they were sorted into categories of rejection.

Seven of the 16 were rejected because the individuals were not registered or had not included a voter registration application in the envelope.

Four were rejected because the voter's name or address on the return envelope was not the same as the absentee ballot application.

Because the return addresses were from college towns, it's suspected that some of those were college students who put their Kandiyohi County address on the application form but their college address on the envelope. Not properly following that step in the process caused their ballots to be rejected.

Two ballots were rejected because the signatures didn't match; two were rejected because the individuals had voted at the polls -- which is acceptable -- and one was rejected because the individual had cast an absentee ballot but died before Election Day.

County Auditor Sam Modderman will send the report to the State Canvassing Board for review.

The process took about an hour and involved little discussion between the judges and Modderman.

The ballots that garnered the most attention were the two that had signatures that didn't match.

Absentee ballots require a voter to sign their name in two separate places. If the signatures don't match, judges can reject the ballots.

"It's drastically different," said Nancy Hammerschmidt, an election judge, as she examined one of the signatures on the ballot of Zachary Kjolsing, of Willmar, and compared it to his other signature.

"One is relatively neat," said Bruce Heymer, the other election judge.

A similar discussion took place while discussing Jessup Schiks' ballot. While acknowledging they weren't handwriting experts and that signatures can look different when one is writing in a hurry, the judges agreed that there was too much difference and said the Willmar man's ballot should be rejected.

Even though Thomas Sult, of New London, had voted in the past, he was listed as an "inactive" voter, which required him to provide a new voter registration application in his absentee ballots. Because that was missing, his ballot was rejected.

Rejected ballots

- Karen Kosmas, Willmar -- not registered and no completed voter registration application included.

- Rebecca Bell, Willmar -- name and address were not the same on return envelope as ballot application.

- Miles Edinburgh, Willmar -- not registered and no completed voter registration application included.

- Zachary Kjolsing, Willmar -- signatures did not match.

- Jessup Schiks, Willmar -- signatures did not match.

- Heidi Johnson, New London -- not registered and no completed voter registration application included.

- Daniel Sawatzky, New London -- voted at the polls.

- Thomas Sult, New London -- not registered and no completed voter registration application included.

- Krista Koenen, Willmar -- name and address not the same on return envelope as ballot application.

- Cora Pederson, Willmar -- voted at the polls.

- Lyndsey Paffrath, Spicer -- not registered and no completed voter registration application included.

- Anna Nordstrom, Atwater -- not registered and no completed voter registration application included.

- Brittany Bolton, Atwater -- name and address not the same on return envelope as ballot application.

- Andrew Dowdell, Atwater -- not registered and no completed voter registration application included.

- Sarah Patterson, Willmar -- name and address not the same on return envelope as ballot application.

- Marion Kingery, Atwater -- deceased

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Carolyn Lange
A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers county government and regional news with the West Central Tribune.
(320) 894-9750
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