Voting Roundup: Strong Turnout, Long Lines, More Lawyers

Hundreds of lawyers and poll watchers are reportedly stationed throughout the state this election day; meanwhile, some voters have encountered long lines, and the state’s business leaders await the outcome of the election and its impact on their companies.

Early Tuesday reports indicated a strong turnout among Minnesota voters, many of whom encountered long lines and may have spotted attorneys and party-authorized observers at their polling places.

Both Democratic and Republican leaders in Minnesota told Kare 11 that there are more lawyers and poll watchers on standby in Minnesota than ever before, with hundreds of them stationed throughout the state.

Poll watchers at most polling locations must have a signed letter from a party chair to access the voting area, according to Kare 11. They’re not allowed to interfere in the election, but they can report complaints of irregularities to election judges, county officials, and their own party leaders.

The outcome of the election is expected to have a significant impact on Minnesota businesses. In a recent survey, the state’s small-business owners said that the economy and jobs are the most critical issues in the presidential election, while ethics, honesty, and corruption in government are also important when selecting a candidate. But they appeared torn on which candidate would best address those issues.

In Twin Cities Business’ most recent Quarterly Economic Indicator Survey, the state’s business leaders remained optimistic but appeared to be in somewhat of a holding pattern as they waited for the outcome of the presidential election and solutions for the standoff over budget policy in Washington and the debt crisis in Europe.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie reportedly expects nearly 78 percent of Minnesota’s eligible voters to vote this year. That would be in line with recent elections, and the state consistently has the highest voter rate in the country, according to a report by CNN.

From early accounts, voters were turning out in droves Tuesday morning. After most of the state’s polls opened at 7 a.m., there were several reports of long lines and lengthy waits. The Star Tribune reported that several hundred people were in line this morning at the Sibley Park voting station in south Minneapolis.

At the VFW on Lyndale Avenue in Minneapolis, at least 200 people stood outside around 8 a.m., according to a report by Minnesota Public Radio (MPR).

A flurry of tweets, including many from local journalists, also depicted high turnout and long waits Tuesday morning.

Polls will remain open until 8 p.m. Tuesday. To find your polling place, click here. To see the names of candidates and questions that will be on the ballot for your precinct, click here.

After polls close, unofficial election results will be posted on the secretary of state’s website and can be accessed by clicking here.

There appeared to be some hiccups in the voting process on Tuesday. There were several reports of malfunctioning machines in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and voters were instructed to feed ballots into a box on the machine so that the ballots could be counted later, according to MPR. However, those machines were expected to be replaced with backups throughout the day.

Meanwhile, a report by the Associated Press cited other sporadic problems throughout the country, including a last-minute fight in Ohio over election software and a Florida elections office that mistakenly told voters that the election was on Wednesday.

Two proposed amendments to Minnesota’s constitution—whether to define marriage as only between a man and woman and whether to require voters to show photo identification at the polls—have led to a heated debate, and they could boost turnout among some groups, Kathryn Pearson, a political science professor at the University of Minnesota, told MPR.

A number of Minnesota companies, including General Mills, St. Jude Medical, and Capella University, have formally opposed the amendment. Some local businesspeople—including Bill George, Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Vance Opperman, John Taft, and Wheelock Whitney—have also said they oppose the amendment.

The leaders of several local law firms have come out against the amendment as well, while another group called Lawyers for Marriage support it.

There were several reports Tuesday of politicking at local polling places, which Minnesota law prohibits. Some voters spotted signs or messages pertaining to the marriage amendment at churches that were serving as polling locations. The Star Tribune has a photo of one such banner at the St. John Vianney Catholic Community, which reads “Strengthen Marriage, Don’t Define It.” (It was reportedly taken down.)