MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The pandemic didn’t slow down Tuesday night’s Primary Election results, but it did impact the way people vote.
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon says the state had accepted 500,000 absentee ballots by about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. That’s not counting people who voted in person.
Those mail-in ballots are more than the total number of people who voted in the entire 2016 primary, and Simon anticipates potentially tens of thousands of absentee ballots will be counted in the next 48 hours.
“So just want your viewers to know that when they see, not if, but when they see that at the end of tonight 100% of the ballots are not known, that is by design, literally by design. So that’s not a sign of any county or city screwing up or falling down on the job, that is actually the way the system this year was designed, and I think wisely,” Simon said.
Those who did vote in person likely noticed several differences compared to previous elections. There were little to no lines at some polling places, there was also an emphasis on sanitation, social distancing and face coverings. And of course, people go their “I Voted” stickers on the way out.
Secretary Simon visited polling places, and based on what he viewed and heard from election judges, things went well.
He called it a successful dress rehearsal for the general election, and voters who WCCO spoke with agreed, including St. Paul residents Jean Green and Logan Lecomppe.
“I was a little worried about the line and just safety with COVID, pens being reused. I noticed they had single-use pens this time, and there wasn’t any line,” Green said.
“They’re doing like one-way traffic, so you enter in one door, exit another door. Everything’s sanitized, have a box of clean pens. So yeah, they did a good job with safety precautions,” Lecomppe said.
Election offices in cities and counties will spend the next two days counting more absentee ballots. Secretary Simon says it’s possible that some ballots that were put in the mail Monday or Tuesday might not make it in time to be counted. It’s why he suggests people mail them during the week before an election day in order to better ensure they’re counted on time.