The party was all but over and school board candidates and their family and friends had gone home.
But the wait was still on until early Wednesday morning on the second floor of the historic Crow Wing County Courthouse as Crow Wing County election and Brainerd school officials were left waiting for the last of 21 precincts to roll in.
The election judges from Brainerd city Ward 1 precinct from Trinity Lutheran Church in south Brainerd, who had made contact with county election officials more than an hour earlier by phone and said they were packing things up, arrived at the courthouse after 11:30 p.m., a half-hour after the previous precinct results had been turned in.
The polls had closed at 8 p.m. and the first precinct results came in from Brainerd city Ward 4 at Harrison School just before 9 p.m.
After several minutes of checking and rechecking the final precinct's information, county auditor Deborah Erickson and her staff entered the final results into the state Secretary of State election Web site after midnight Wednesday.
Erickson said the delay stemmed from signatures that weren't adding up properly on the registration forms. She said the precinct also had the third largest turnout, 311 voters, and the largest number of absentee voters, 31 of the 109 absentee ballots submitted during Tuesday's school board election. This also may have contributed to some of the delay.
"At the end of the night, sometimes the judges are a little bit tired and some of them are a bit elderly and sometimes it takes a little bit longer to complete the process," Erickson said in an interview Wednesday afternoon. "Sometimes when you count the same page of signatures 15 times and come up with the same wrong number, that's what takes some time.
"But I would rather the judges take their time and do things accurately and correctly than to make mistakes to have it in by a certain time. We do suggest that if they are having troubles, we will ask them to pack their stuff up and come to the courthouse because sometimes a fresh pair of eyes will help. I'm not suggesting they are doing anything wrong. I didn't want it to end earlier, I wanted it to be correct. If it takes a bit longer, that's great."
Erickson said there was nothing about Tuesday's election that she would like to see changed for next year's election. She said things went well and having the county administer the election, rather than the school district, which had administered previous school elections, streamlined the process and provided consistency for election judges.
Erickson said that despite the wait, Tuesday's election went well.
The Brainerd School Board will welcome three new members to the board table in January, as well as welcome back its board chair who was re-elected Tuesday.
Tom Haglin of Nisswa; Chris Robinson of Baxter; and incumbent Ruth Nelson of East Gull Lake were elected to four-year terms on the Brainerd School Board. Jim Hunt of Baxter beat incumbent Bob Nystrom and candidates Tom Peterson and Theresa Knierim for the open two-year board seat.
Vote totals and percentages for Brainerd school candidates are as follows:
Four-year seats (top three were elected).
• Tom Haglin, 1,707 votes, or 22.4 percent.
• Ruth Nelson, 1,662 votes, or 21.81 percent.
• Chris Robinson, 1,526 votes, or 20.02 percent.
• Todd Froemming, 1,318 votes, or 17.29 percent.
• Nancy Cross, 950 votes, or 12.47 percent.
• Howard Brewer, 439 votes, or 5.76 percent.
• Write-ins, 19 votes, or .25 percent.
Two-year seat (top vote-getter was elected).
• Jim Hunt, 1,553 votes, or 54.72 percent.
• Bob Nystrom, 666 votes, or 23.47 percent.
• Tom Peterson, 411 votes, or 14.48 percent.
• Theresa Knierim, 205 votes, or 7.22 percent.
• Write-ins, 3 votes, or .11 percent.
JODIE TWEED may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5858.
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