Voter turnout high in historic presidential election year | www.WDIO.com

Voter turnout high in historic presidential election year

Updated: November 03, 2020 11:58 PM

Voter turnout wasn't just high for early and absentee voting. 

Duluth Director of Administrative Services Chelsea Helmer said that by Tuesday afternoon, some local precincts had already reported 80% turnout. 

At about 5 p.m., the Vineyard Church (Precinct 11), reported more than 1,000 voters had come through the doors on top of the 1,400 absentee ballots that were submitted earlier. An election judge said they had registered around 250 voters. 

That's where Megan Perry-Spears, dressed as Lady Liberty, was dropping St. Scholastica students off to vote. 

"It's the best day of the year. I can't imagine a better thing for an educator to do," Perry-Spears said. 

Many students are first-time voters. She said lots opted to vote absentee, but she still made plenty of trips back and forth from campus to the Vineyard. 

"Students are totally fired up, they are voting, they're taking it very seriously but also just really excited to participate in the process," she said.

By about 6 p.m., the First United Methodist Church precinct (17), had seen about 930 people come through. Poll workers said they had a line when they opened at 7 a.m. but a short wait time the rest of the day. 

Alex Moe and Grace Hill voted there and said there was no line for them. The UMD students said they wouldn't have missed the chance to vote. 

"I'm voting because it's the responsibility of the citizens to stay informed, to be involved in their community, that's something my parents instilled in me from a very young age," Hill said.

"With almost every right, you have a responsibility that goes with it. And in this case, it's not just watching just CNN, just FOX, just one source. Watching different sources, listening to what's happening, listening to the debates, kind of keeping yourself informed so you can make an educated decision," Moe said. 

Helmer said other than a minor machine issue in the morning, things had gone smoothly across the City of Duluth.

Mayor Emily Larson said the city had to hire nine people to help manage early voting and answer questions about Election Day. 

"We had experienced a tremendous amount of voter anxiety ahead of today," Larson said. "Many, many questions we or the elections office had never gotten about whether or not the polling place will be safe physically. You know, this discussion that there would be protests or something or militia members, not happening." 

Larson said she does not expect any unrest post-election. 

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