Absentee ballot requests higher in suburbs, exurbs

5:42 PM, Oct 27, 2006   |    comments
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For St. Paul resident Tommie Giles, October 27, was Election Day. "I'm proud," she said, as she cast an absentee ballot. "I feel like I've done what the American dream says for us, in order for us to make American better." She'll be visiting her sick father on Nov. 7. So she voted early. And for a number reasons, each year, more voters are doing the same thing. Joe Mansky, the Ramsey County elections director, says more than eight percent of voters vote early. "It's fairly clear that lifestyle changes are moving people away from the traditional mode of voting, which is that you would walk to your polling place at the same point on election day," he said. Click here for more election news In Anoka County, the numbers of absentee voters are way up this year. Elections director Rachel Smith says the number of absentee ballots turned in this year is double the number of ballots turned in at this point in the 2004 election cycle. "It is a lot, yes," she said. "We're very excited." Part of that excitement surrounds the races themselves, such as the 6th District congressional race between Michele Bachmann and Patty Wetterling. But in the suburbs and exurbs, there are a lot of reasons. Long, time-draining commutes to work, for starters. "I think that's one of them," Smith said. And she added, "We certainly know that deer season is approaching. Whatever the reason, Joe Mansky said it's likely the state legislature will consider loosening the election-day rules next year by placing polling stations in more convenient places or saying voters can vote early for any reason. Currently, there are four official reasons listed on the absentee ballot application:

  • You will be away from home on Election Day,
  • You are ill or disabled,
  • You are an election judge serving in a precinct other than your own, or
  • You are unable to go to the polling place due to a religious observance or belief. Joe Mansky said, "It's easy to make the argument that, with the kind of tools that we have available to us today, that we should make voting more available, at a time and place of your choosing, rather than having you conform to our schedule." Mansky said it's not likely voting will move onto the Internet anytime soon. He says voters don't trust the technology and aren't likely to use it. By Scott Goldberg KARE 11 News

    (Copyright 2006 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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