CROSSLAKE -- The next time Crosslake voters take to the polls they will have to remember which precinct they belong to.
On Monday, the Crosslake City Council heard a recommendation and agreed to divide the city's single voting precinct into two -- using county roads to create a north and a south precinct. Crow Wing County Auditor Roy Luukkonen sent the city a letter dated July 8 saying city staff and the auditor's office staff recommended the change because of the city's population growth.
Crosslake has 1,639 registered voters, second in the county only to Baxter's registered voters in its two precincts. And Crosslake has one of the largest counts of absentee ballots.
Residents casting absentee ballots have the option of voting in person on Election Day so absentee ballots are counted last. Luukkonen said having two precincts will reduce election judge time for processing of absentee ballots. At the last election, Crosslake election judges made it to the county courthouse with their ballots about 2 a.m.
The recommended boundary to create the two precincts follows county roads through the city. The boundary runs along County State Aid Highway 16 to the northern portion of Cross Lake before turning south along County Road 66 to CSAH 3 and then extends eastward on County Road 36, curving around Velvet Lake. Residents on the north and east side of those roads are in Precinct One. Residents to the south and west of the roads are in Precinct Two. Precinct One is estimated to have a population of 1,035 and Precinct Two has a population of 818.
Those in Precinct One will vote at the Crosslake Community Center and residents in Precinct Two will vote at city hall.
Darlene Roach, city clerk, said by making the change now the city may be able to take advantage of funding for voting equipment for voters with disabilities. The county agreed to be responsible for mailings to inform residents of the change. The second precinct also will need to be outfitted with equipment. Luukkonen estimated the equipment for a second precinct could cost $4,500 with additional modern voting booths available costing about $240 each. Ten booths per precinct should be sufficient, Luukkonen said.
Crosslake staff estimated it may cost $10,000 for the change and upgrades for city voting.
The council voted unanimously to split the city into two precincts. Council member Terry Curtis was absent.
RENEE RICHARDSON can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5852.
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