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A peak behind the scenes on Election Day

(Submitted photo)

With polling places in Goodhue County opening at 7 a.m., Carolyn Holmsten, finance director, was gearing up in the early hours for a long day ahead.

Holmsten drove around the county throughout the day, and with the county's 91.55 percent voter turnout, she ended up having her hands full.

Only a few bumps in the road posed a threat along the way. From an 84 percent increase in voting before Election Day, to vote counting machines acting up in the county, Holmsten witnessed only minor issues arise and truly enjoyed the eventful occasion.

"It was a beautiful day for driving around. Driving through the county really reminds me of what we're all about." Holmsten said.

Some voters came to the polls riding a horse, and one older gentleman even voted from his car.

"I like seeing the people in the polls utilizing the democratic process we're so fortunate to have."

5:30 a.m.: Alarm goes off. Get mentally prepared for the day.

6 a.m.: Think of the judges who are already at the polls getting things ready for voters.

6:45 a.m.: Arrive at office, check with staff who already had two phone calls shortly after 6 a.m.

7-7:30 a.m.: With another staff person, review and accept ballots from Red Wing and Cannon Falls that were voted in person late Monday night.

7:15 a.m.: Receive a precinct call regarding a Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act voter.

7:30 a.m.: Respond to emails received yesterday that could get a quick response.

8-8:30 a.m.: More ballots to review from Zumbrota and Lake City that were late Monday night.

8:30 a.m.: Call Red Wing city staff and see if they can come to make calls to their precincts regarding absentee ballots once mail arrives.

8:45 a.m.: Confirm with IT that room will be ready for media tonight.

8:55 a.m.: Head out to visit all precincts except Red Wing. Those precincts were visited by Kathy Johnson. Will stop in Red Wing if possible.

9:10 a.m.: Featherstone Township first stop. Already had 97 voters stop at Belle Creek, Vasa and Cannon Falls Townships. All steady flow.

10:30 a.m.: Cannon Falls; head judge on phone with Red Wing staff writing absentee voters in roster for those that had arrived in mail. Indicated Carlton College poll students were there from

8-9 a.m. All went well. Many voters seemed to be taking the survey. Two buses of elderly people were voting.

11:07 a.m.: Stanton Township; voter who had voted absentee stopped. Was happy to see this was indicated in roster. Picked up an I Voted sticker and left the site smiling.

11:30 a.m.: Dennison; had a voter who should be in Rice County. Rice County does a mail ballot with Dennison so had to send the voter to Faribault. Voter said he was going there.

12 p.m.: Warsaw, Leon and Wanamingo going well.

12:30 p.m.: Kenyon, Cherry Grove and Holden townships all at one site. Pleasant young man was a judge. His aunt had recruited him for the primary, so fun to see him doing the job again.

12:40 p.m.: Stop at Kenyon grocery store for a Diet Coke!

12:45 p.m.: Kenyon city; all fine.

1:10 p.m.: On Highway 60 between Kenyon and Wanamingo, the field on the south was plowed. Saw a huge buck running toward the road. Glad I slowed down as the deer kept right on going across the road to the north. Reminded me that one year a Cannon Falls judge hit a deer late at night bringing ballots back to Red Wing.

1:15 p.m.: Wanamingo city; judge preparing for write-in process. Had a couple questions on how to tally them.

2 p.m.: Pine Island questions regarding voters who voted in the wrong precinct. The city is part Goodhue County and part Olmsted County, so it is confusing.

2:40 p.m.: Pine Island Township; passed two gals on horses while driving to the Town Hall. Leaving Town Hall the girls were in the parking lot. They had come to vote. I took a picture of the fun experience, heard later Belle Creek had the same.

3:30 p.m.: Zumbrota Township; concerned about running out of ballots for one of the two school districts that vote there. Ended up OK at the end of the night.

3:45 p.m.: Driving to Belvidere. Call office to check on the ladies. They have been processing ballots that were absentee and early voters since 10:30 a.m. Troubleshooted phone calls, ran a machine to Wacouta as they starting having problems mid-morning. Reminded staff to order some sandwiches for themselves for supper, knew they were busy and had not stopped for lunch.

4 p.m.: Belvidere; share a polling place with a Wabasha County precinct. They had taken yellow tape and made arrows on the floor for the Goodhue County people to follow.

4:20 p.m.: Goodhue; had a curbside voter for the first time. An elderly gentleman was able to vote from his car. Everyone felt good about that option.

4:30 p.m.: Hay Creek; all OK.

4:45 p.m.: Stop at Southeast College to cast my own ballot!

5 p.m.: Stop at office and check in on a Cannon Falls issue.

5:15 p.m.: Leave for Frontenac, gave them more I Voted stickers from the supply in the car.

5:30 p.m.: Wacouta; leaving Wacouta and hear Stanton Township is running low on ballots, tell them I will deliver. Stop at office and ladies have these ready. One staff person already off to Burnside and Vasa with additional ballots.

6 p.m.: Get ballots to Stanton, stop at Cannon Falls and take care of a ballot problem.

8:15 p.m.: Five staff plus additional helpers, ready for the precincts to begin bringing in their results.

8:25 p.m.: First precinct arrives. With early voting the volume has been high, lots of extra work for staff. Expect Goodhue County to have a very high voter turnout.

11 p.m.: All but one precinct processed. Steady throughout night but no backlog.

12:40 a.m.: Leave for home.

Kit Murray

Kit Murray joined Red Wing Republican Eagle in Aug. 2016, covering government, transportation and public safety. She is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead with a degree in photojournalism and philosophy. 

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