More than 2,000 voters in Crow Wing County have mail or absentee ballots for next week's election and they now have an option to recast a vote in the U.S. Senate race.
County Auditor Roy Luukkonen said this morning that there are 600 people, or nine precincts, who vote by mail ballot. He said 1,700 absentee ballots have been sent to voters. He said he could not determine how many of these ballots have already been sent back to the county.
With the sudden death of Sen. Paul Wellstone Friday, the question on how to deal with the Senate race has people wondering how absentee and mail ballots will work.
Luukkonen was in St. Cloud Friday to pick up software from an election service provider for elections when he heard the radio news of Wellstone's death in a plane crash.
"It was total shock to me as well as the people working on the software," he said. "I first heard the plane crashed and then that he and his family lost their lives."
Luukkonen will brief head election judges and city and township clerks from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the courthouse on the changes in balloting. The head election judges and city and township clerks will also pick up supplemental ballots and other supplies for the election during this time. Supplemental ballots will include all of the U.S. Senate candidates, including the candidate that the DFL Party chooses to fill the vacancy.
Luukkonen said if the voter has not returned their absentee or mail ballot that they may write in a name for the Senate race. Procedures in the nine mail ballot precincts will be announced at a later date.
If a person has already sent in their ballot and voted for Wellstone -- and if they do nothing else -- their votes for all other races will count. If a person voted for another Senate candidate the vote also is valid. The vote for Wellstone will not count.
The process of the supplemental ballot will be determined through the state attorney general's office. The supplemental ballots will be produced as soon as a replacement candidate is chosen and then the counties will be able to print the ballots, said Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer in a news release Saturday.
Luukkonen said reimbursement to the counties of the cost of these ballots will be determined at a later date.
On election night, the absentee and mail ballots will be counted through an optical scan. The supplemental ballots will be manually counted.
Luukkonen said he is directed from the state to not count any of the absentee ballots until after the polls close on election night.
"We will not be adding election judges," said Luukkonen. "The returns (results) will be later than expected."
The county has 425 election judges for this fall's election.
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