Early voter turnout 'steady' at courthouse
Stutsman County residents who haven't yet cast their vote will need to drop off or mail their absentee ballot postmarked by Nov. 2 or vote at the Jamestown Civic Center on Election Day.
Jessica Alonge, interim auditor/chief operating officer for Stutsman County, said 5,379 absentee ballots were mailed out and 3,853 had been returned as of Friday morning.
Early voting began Oct. 19 on the main floor of the Stutsman County Courthouse during regular business hours and ends Friday.
“It’s been pretty steady,” she said.
There were four clerks checking in people voting at the courthouse and 10 voting stations, Alonge said. At least 2,368 people had voted early as of Friday morning.
“It’s been pretty seamless, I haven’t seen any lines, really,” she said. “Looking at numbers from previous years, I think that we would have probably half of our ballots cast before Election Day, either between absentee or early vote.”
Election Day voting
People voting at the Jamestown Civic Center on Tuesday, Nov. 3, which is Election Day, can cast their ballot from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. A portion of 3rd Street Northeast between the Civic Center and the Jamestown Business Center will be closed to traffic for voters.
The entry to the voting site at the Civic Center will be changed that day, Alonge said.
“Previously, people have been able to enter through the north side entrance and then also the west side upper-level entrance,” she said. “Our main entrance for this election is going to be that north side entrance.”
The upper-level doors will only be open for handicap access to the elevator, Alonge said.
“So people will not be able to get into that second set of doors and come down the stairs into the main floor of the Civic Center,” she said. “And that (change) was due to COVID and some of the precautionary measures that we’re putting into place.”
People are encouraged to wear masks when voting at the Civic Center.
“We’re strongly encouraging the use of masks and social distancing,” Alonge said.
Judges and clerks working the election will be behind a barrier to protect them. The Stutsman County Commission voted to strongly recommend that poll workers such as greeters, who will not be behind barriers, to wear masks, Alonge said.
Jamestown Mayor Dwaine Heinrich said an executive order he issued that took effect Friday related to face coverings and gatherings of 50 or more people does not affect voting at the Civic Center; the election is being conducted by Stutsman County.
“The executive order has absolutely no impact whatsoever on any election activities,” he said. “There was no intent to do anything to give anyone the impression that this would in any way, shape or form affect anything doing with the election.”
The executive order requires face coverings for all public-facing retail and service employees, including liquor and eating establishments, while employees may come in contact with the general public. Individuals are encouraged to wear face coverings while in public and businesses are urged to require face coverings of the general public when entering the business. The order also requires a plan being submitted for events for 50 or more people on how the public will be kept safe.
The county’s new election equipment will be in use on Election Day. All counties received new equipment from the state, and the public test of the equipment on Oct. 16 in Stutsman County went well, Alonge said. Some of the new equipment was in use during the primary but not all of it because the election was by mail, she said.
“This will be our first time using all of the equipment,” she said.
Mailed ballots postmarked by Nov. 2 must be received by the time the canvassing board meets, which is Monday, Nov. 9, at 10 a.m.