Voters have until 8 p.m. Tuesday to cast a ballot in the Brainerd School District levy referendum and as of Tuesday afternoon, voter turnout so far had been steady.
Debby Erickson, Crow Wing County elections coordinator, said she had visited polling sites and election judges reported that voter turnout was steady.
“There is some slight confusion with some about the combined polling places,” said Erickson. “People are having to make a couple of stops because they didn’t know they had to vote at a combined polling site.”
The county received around 500 absentee ballots in Tuesday’s school referendum. In 2007, when the district failed to pass its last operating levy referendum, there were more than 1,000 absentee ballots cast.
Around noon Tuesday there were about 500 votes that were cast at Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Baxter. At 11 a.m. 300 people had cast their ballots at Heritage Assembly of God Church in Baxter. About 120 voters had cast ballots at Crow Wing Town Hall around noon.
“It’s been steady, definitely more than I was expecting,” Ben Bedard, head election judge for Ward 2, Precincts 1 and 2, at Riverside Elementary School. “We had six or seven people waiting at 7 a.m.”
Krista Soukup brought her 4-year-old twin girls, Leah and Rebekah, with her when she voted at Riverside School Tuesday. The girls were only a few months old when the 2007 school levy referendum failed. Soukup had been very active in trying to keep Whittier School open after the 2007 levy failed, but the school board decided to close the north Brainerd elementary school as part of the budget cuts for the 2008-09 school year.
Soukup said her four children attend or will attend St. Francis of the Lakes Catholic School but she voted “yes yes” in Tuesday’s referendum.
“Even though my kids attend private school, I believe we need to keep our schools healthy,” Soukup explained. “It affects the kids in my community and I want my community to be strong.”
Erickson received a complaint from council member Mary Koep about two Vote Yes Yes signs placed at the entrance to Trinity Lutheran Church, a polling site. Erickson said the signs were not there when the election judges arrived there in the early morning and were placed there sometime after 9 a.m. She said she showed up at the church around 1:30 p.m. when the signs were being removed. She said they had been accidentally placed there. Political signs have to be more than 100 feet from the door of the polling site and Erickson said those signs were more than 100 feet from the polling site door.
Polls close at 8 p.m.
Check out BrainerdDispatch.com for continuing coverage Tuesday night. Precinct totals are anticipated to start rolling in between 8:30-9 p.m.
JODIE TWEED may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5858.