Polls Open for Primaries During Pandemic
DULUTH, Minn.– Primary elections are being held in both Minnesota and Wisconsin today. But due to COVID-19, things are looking a lot different than usual at polling places.
Traffic at polling places has been fairly light with many voters casting absentee or mail-in ballots. But in-person voting is also happening, with the goal of keeping everyone safe.
“That’s our number one concern,” said Chelsea Helmer, Director of Administrative Services for the City of Duluth. “Making sure that every eligible voter can cast their vote on election day.”
At polling locations around the Northland, surfaces are constantly being wiped down. Precincts are fully stocked with PPE and have a one-way path for voters to get in and out.
The pandemic has caused a jump in absentee voters. By early Tuesday afternoon, the city of Duluth had received nearly 8,000 absentee ballots. The largest number the city has ever processed.
“It’s definitely far exceeded what we’ve seen for absentee balloting in previous years,” said Helmer. “And of course it really is the safest way to cast your ballot. So we had a lot of people who took advantage of that.”
Duluth’s 8th voting precinct is usually one of the busier places to vote in the city. The polling place was expecting a slow day but Election Judge Steve Hedman says he’s never seen an election with so much emphasis on mail-in ballots.
“I think people are concerned about coming out and i think they are sending in their absentee ballots,” said Hedman. “Our bottom line is to encourage people to vote, however they do that.”
This year, ballots will still be accepted as long as they are postmarked by Tuesday or earlier and received by Thursday.