As of 8 a.m. today the Crow Wing County auditor's office had received official supplemental ballots for the U.S. Senate race, said County Auditor Roy Luukkonen.
With the sudden death of Sen. Paul Wellstone in a plane crash a week ago, changes were made in how absentee and mail ballots will work for Tuesday's election.
Luukkonen said so far the county has had several requests and will mail a supplemental ballot along with a second regular absentee ballot to people on the same day they make the request. A person may make a request for the ballots either by mail, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by telephone at 824-1045, by fax at 824-1046 or in person.
The action came after the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled Thursday that election officials send new absentee and supplemental ballots to people who ask to change their votes.
Luukkonen said the second absentee ballot has the U.S. Senate race crossed out and residents will vote for this race on the supplemental ballot. The other races will be counted on the second regular ballot. The official sample ballot is on Page 3A in today's Dispatch.
Luukkonen said there are a number of voters in the county who spend their winters in warmer climates. He said if one of those voters requests a second absentee ballot and supplemental ballot, the time in which they receive and return the ballots will depend on mail delivery.
"Some may not be returned on time," said Luukkonen. "However, then the first absentee ballot will be counted if it is received timely."
The county must have the ballots returned to the proper voting precincts by 8 p.m. Tuesday, election day. The election judges will not count the absentee ballots until this time.
The courthouse will be open for absentee voting from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday; and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday.
Voters who already handed in their absentee ballots have the option to go to the polls on election day to vote. If a person does this, his or her absentee ballot will be rejected and the new ballot will take its place.
Voters in precincts that vote entirely by mail may request a second mailing or come in person to the auditor's office to cast a supplemental ballot for the Senate race if they wish to do so, said Luukkonen. In addition to the hours listed above, voters in these districts may also vote in person at the auditor's office until 8 p.m. on election day.
The court ruling also says election officials must personally provide an official supplemental ballot and a second regular ballot to residents at health facilities.
Four of the county's head election judges picked up the first absentee ballots with the U.S. Senate race crossed out and the official supplemental ballot this morning. The judges will go to Woodland Acres and Brainerd Manor for residents to vote.
Don Stang, Brainerd, a head election judge at Harrison Elementary School in Brainerd, said with the changes made in this year's election, it will be different.
"It will be a pain ... lots of hours," he said. "It's unfortunate with the death, but we have to go on from here."
Stang also said the Minnesota Supreme Court ruling was appropriate.
Another head election judge, Joyce Meier of Brainerd, said she has been an election judge for 15 years and this is the most unusual election yet.
"It's going to be an awfully long day and night," she said.
Jim Torgerson, Brainerd, voted by absentee ballot this morning for the first time. He is a truck driver and will be in Baltimore on election day.
Torgerson said the Minnesota Supreme Court ruling, in his opinion, was proper and fair.
Betty McComas, Merrifield, also voted by absentee ballot today and said she is glad she waited.
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