Voter Turnout Unprecedented in City, County Clerks Say

St. Louis County Officials say more than 54,000 absentee ballots have come in this year, a huge jump from the roughly 16,000 in 2016.

DULUTH, Minn.- According to officials nearly 8,000 more residents in St. Louis County registered to vote this year than during the 2016 Presidential Election, and the City of Duluth also smashing records when it comes to absentee ballots and turnout.

City and county officials told FOX 21 the influx of absentee ballots this year have been unprecedented.

While that has increased staffing and overtime hours at polling locations across Duluth and the county, they said they were well equipped to count it all.

Early Tuesday afternoon, the Duluth City Clerk said about 47% of registered voters voted early this year. Still she expected to see a steady flow of people to the polls on Election Day.

“It’s been steady which has been great because it’s allowed us to kind of coordinate that social distancing that we need in order to keep voters safe but still seeing a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of folks coming out to vote today,” Clerk Chelsea Helmer said.

Still Helmer tells us this election is not like anything else she’s seen before. “Substantially different,” she said.

“We really have no comparable benchmark to elections I mean we think, compared turnout. in presidential years certainly we’ll see high turnout like we historically do but an election during a pandemic, definitely something new,” said Helmer.

Meanwhile officials with St. Louis County are handling more than 54,000 absentee ballots this year a huge jump from the roughly 16,000 in 2016.

Deputy Auditor Phill Chapman said the post office has really sped up processing to meet the influx of ballots.

“The post office has been really helpful they’ve changed kind of their processing so they’re not sending this stuff to the cities they’re keeping it local, sorting it local, so really speeding up getting ballots in and out,” Chapman said.

Any ballots received no later than November 10th will be counted, according to Chapman, as long as they were postmarked for Election Day November 3rd.

Due to a ruling by the 8th District Court of Appeals, however, any ballots for the Presidential race received after Tuesday will be counted but segregated.

If a future court case makes them invalid, they will be removed from the total. “With that court case we don’t know at this time if we’re required to count the Presidential, Vice Presidential races or not it will hinge on the outcome of, what direction the courts give us,” said the Deputy Auditor.

Still, Chapman says, he expects 95-100% of absentee ballots will be counted by the end of election night.

But for a clearer picture, he says, check back at the end of the week.

“When people are looking at the vote totals today, their not really going to be the exact totals until we hit November 10th,” said Chapman. “We’re still going to have that trickle in, absentee, if they fit that postal requirement then they’ll be tabulated.”

Be sure to check into FOX 21 online, on Facebook and on-air throughout the week for the latest updated Election 2020 results.

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