Weather Forecast


Problems minimal across west central Minnesota as 21,547 cast votes

Voters register Tuesday at the National Guard Armory in Benson. Nearly 90 percent of registered voters in Swift County cast votes in the election. Tribune photo by Tom Larson

WILLMAR -- There was strong voter turnout and few Election Day problems reported in many west central Minnesota counties Tuesday.

In Kandiyohi County voter turnout was more than 91 percent, said Cathy Pederson, the assistant county auditor.

There were 21,547 voters, including 3,238 new voters who registered on Election Day or through absentee balloting.

The equipment worked well and returns were processed in a timely manner, said Pederson.

There were a few issues raised early in the day with reports that judges in two polling locations in the county had advised voters that not voting on the constitutional amendments would be considered a no vote.

Interim County Auditor Mark Thompson said that was a "no-no and we've addressed it."

He said election judges were told during training sessions that they were not allowed to talk to voters about the amendments because it could be construed as influencing them to vote one way or another.

After the complaints were lodged, he made phone calls to every polling location to remind judges about the rules.

In Meeker County 12,312 people cast ballots, for a voter turnout of 81 percent, according to Meeker County Auditor Barb Loch.

There were 1,600 new voters who registered to vote.

"It went very well," said Loch.

In Swift County 5,407 people voted, including 622 new voters who registered on Election Day, resulting in a voter turnout of 88 percent, said County Auditor Byron Giese.

"I didn't hear any complaints whatsoever. No incident reports," said Giese, who is retiring this spring after serving in the auditor's office for 32 years.

He estimates that he's overseen 70 elections during his tenure. This was his last one.

Figures available on the Secretary of State's website -- which do not include Election day registrations -- show other area counties to be in the same range. Chippewa, Lac qui Parle, Pope and Yellow Medicine counties appear to have had 90 percent turnout or better, and Renville County more than 85 percent.

The state of Minnesota overall continued its history of strong voter turnout with about 76 percent turnout statewide Tuesday, and Minnesotans cast a record number of ballots, according to Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. That is based on 99 percent of precincts reporting.

The presidential race tally is used as the indicator of turnout as most voters cast votes in that contest, and about 2.94 million voters cast ballots statewide in that race. In the 2008 presidential election, 2.92 million voters cast ballots.

Ritchie said in a news release that the turnout figure will increase as final precincts report results.

The number of estimated eligible voters has increased by 135,238 voters since 2008.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750