Hundreds of absentee ballots go out ThursdayAbout 450 absentee ballots were mailed from the Stutsman County Courthouse Thursday. Election officials consider it an indication of a high level of interest in the upcoming general election in November. “For this early in the process this is high,” said Noel Johnson, election administrator for Stutsman County. “The parties are very active and are distributing postcards for people to fill out and send to us to get the absentee ballots.”
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
About 450 absentee ballots were mailed from the Stutsman County Courthouse Thursday. Election officials consider it an indication of a high level of interest in the upcoming general election in November.
“For this early in the process this is high,” said Noel Johnson, election administrator for Stutsman County. “The parties are very active and are distributing postcards for people to fill out and send to us to get the absentee ballots.”
Local party officials agree that a high level of interest exists in races.
“Overall they’re not happy with the economy,” said Delores Rath, District 12 Republican chairman. “We expect a better voter turnout.”
Ruth Urdahl, District 29 chairman for the Democratic Party, recognizes a change in voter habits as playing a part in the high number of absentees.
“There is a lot more emphasis on early voting and with the weather being uncertain voting early is a plus,” she said. “And there is a lot of hype about this election and some of it is pretty nasty, but it has stirred up the voters.”
Johnson said the county does not keep records of when absentee ballots were sent out in past elections but said the 450 sent out on the first day of absentee voting is about 40 percent of the total of 1,086 absentee ballots cast during the entire process of the last non-presidential election.
“It’s hard to say what is driving the attention,” he said. “But we do have the ballot measures, the statewide races and the local races that draw attention.”
Johnson said for people in the area who want to avoid a trip to the poll on Election Day the early voting process is probably a better choice than the absentee ballot.
“Voting absentee is a very paper intense process,” he said. “Early voting, which starts Oct. 18, is a lot more efficient process.”
Early voting limits the voter to casting his or her ballot at the courthouse at the time the voter receives the ballot. Absentee voters are allowed to vote at home and return the ballot by mail or in person at a later time.
In the past two elections between 25 and 35 percent of the vote have been cast either through the absentee or early voting process.
For those wanting to vote absentee there are things to watch out for.
“One of the big problems we see is people using a post office box in their address,” said Linda Chadduck, deputy auditor. “We can only send out an absentee ballot if the information includes a street address to confirm the right precinct.”
Absentee ballots can also be picked up at the courthouse.
“If someone is going to pickup a ballot for a friend or family member they need to have a signed authorization from that person,” Chadduck said. “And a person can only pick up a total of four absentee ballots.”
Individuals can return absentee ballots to the courthouse no later than the day prior to the general election. Absentee ballots returned by mail must be postmarked no later than the day before the election.
Early voting will be allowed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday from Oct. 18 to Nov. 1 at the courthouse. Special early voting hours will occur from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays Oct. 23 and 30 also at the courthouse.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for the general election on Nov. 2.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at (701) 952-8452 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org