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Slow but steady voter turnout at Superior and Duluth polls for primary election

Updated: August 11, 2020 06:28 PM

The primary election in Minnesota and Wisconsin started Tuesday morning with polls opening at 7 a.m. although in-person voter turnout is lower than usual due to the number of people voting absentee.

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Voters and city officials in Duluth and Superior noted the new changes in voting, saying it has been quieter and they predict things may look the same for the November election.

"It has been very slow but we anticipated that being the case since it's a partisan primary with no contested races on the ballot and most people that are going to vote have already voted by absentee," said Terri Kalan, the Superior City Clerk.

Absentee ballots have been through the roof since COVID-19. Superior received 2,700 of them and Kalan predicts absentee ballots will increase moving forward.

"We've seen them continually increasing in number and I think we're gonna keep seeing that in the future we're just going to see a change in the way people vote," said Kalan.

"We had neglected to register for absentee ballot in time for this election but we did it now for the November election and we will have a mail in ballot," said JoAnn Narhi, a Superior resident.

JoAnn and her husband, Clyde, said they signed up to vote absentee due to the unpredictable changes with COVID-19. Although, they said the polls looked safe when they stopped by to vote in the primary.

"I think the distancing and conditions are spaced and it seems quite safe," said Clyde.

New health protocols like sanitizing, social distancing, face mask requirements, and plastic barriers were seen at the polls.

"I felt very safe that they had hand sanitizer available as soon as you walk through the doors. I was wearing my mask, they had like little shields," said Rochelle Goodrich, a Duluth resident.

Goodrich said she did receive an absentee ballot request in the mail but is concerned about postal service delivery issues and chose to vote in person.

"Take the extra effort to come out here and do it in person because then you don't have to worry about whether your vote was counted or got delayed in the mail or anything like that. I will probably intend to do the same thing come November 3rd," said Goodrich.

Meanwhile in Duluth, voter turnout has been slow but steady. So far the City of Duluth has received almost 8,000 absentee ballots. At Coppertop Church they had about 100 ballots around noon. They are encouraging people to vote absentee for the election in November.

"Get your absentee ballot now for the general election in November then you don't have to worry about what the conditions are like that day weatherwise and healthwise and you could just vote at home so we encourage it, " said Janet Nelson, the head election judge for precinct 16.

Polls are open until 8 p.m. Mailed ballots that are post-marked on or before Tuesday in Duluth will be accepted until the end of the day on Aug. 13.

In Superior however, voters have until 8 p.m. to drop off their absentee ballots to the Government Center.

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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