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Cass County Board: Voter turnout lower than previous midterm elections

Election officials said a total of 909 voters were processed on election day at the courthouse counter, with the majority of them voting in-person in protest to receiving a mail ballot.

Cass County Courthouse in Walker.
Cass County Courthouse in Walker.
Brainerd Dispatch
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WALKER — The voter turnout for the Nov. 8 midterm election in Cass County was lower than in 2018, Cass County officials reported.

At its board meeting Thursday, Dec. 8, the Cass County Board received an update on Election Day voting and review procedures. Elections Administrator Pam Smith said voter turnout was 68.8%, a little lower than the previous midterm election.

A total of 909 voters were processed on Election Day at the courthouse counter, Smith said, with the majority of them voting in person in protest of receiving a mail ballot. With this unexpected amount of voters, staff discontinued processing ballots to assist voters at the counter.

This approach decreased the wait time, Smith said, and alleviated already irritated voters from becoming more upset. The processing of ballots was delayed until after 8 p.m., which delayed Cass County’s results being reported to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office.

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Smith also informed board members a post-election review was conducted, which is done by a random draw of two precincts where votes are manually counted. Maple and Crooked Lake townships were drawn, with both counts remaining the same as reported on Election Day. The state, which also conducts a random drawing to provide a more in-depth review, also drew Crooked Lake Township, Smith said.

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A resolution to establish polling places annually was adopted by the board, along with accepting the second phase of an election security grant in the amount of $4,286.94. Smith said the county has until 2027 to spend the money and she is currently working with Central Services Director Tom Buhl to identify any potential security gaps.

Board members also heard from Veterans Service Officer Kristy Smart regarding a newsletter the department plans to send out to all registered veterans within the county. Information in this newsletter will inform area veterans of programs available along with contact information and hours for the Cass County Veterans Service Office. Smart said she decided to create the newsletter in hopes of reaching area veterans and informing them of any changes over the past year. Commissioner Jeff Peterson asked if Smart was planning to distribute some to area American Legions.

“I am now,” Smart replied.

Commissioner Neal Gaalswyk asked how the Operation Green Light program went, with Smart responding the county buildings were both illuminated and, with area newspapers spreading the word, a few other places replaced their bulbs in participation as well.

The truth in taxation meeting occurred at 6 p.m. with a few members of the public attending. Chief Financial Officer Sandra Norikane provided a summary of the 2023 budget process and provided proposed 2023 fee schedule changes.

After Norikane gave her summary, a member of the public asked a question regarding the valuation of their property, expressed concern regarding how much their property taxes increased. They said it was hard for taxpayers on a fixed income to pay the higher evaluations.

The 2023 Cass County levy and budget will be discussed and adopted at the next regular board meeting.

In other business, the county board:

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Reviewed the committee application status, which will be updated at the first meeting in January.

Adopted a resolution approving an active transportation grant application for the second segment of the Fairview trail, which will range in the amount of $50,000 to $500,000.

Approved the 2022 emergency operations and MNWALK Plans.

Approved the final payment to Anderson Brothers Construction Co. in the amount of $3,540,122.99 for the contract work on county highways 14, 42, 43 and 79.

The next meetings are as follows: Commissioner’s board meeting 9 a.m. Dec. 20, at the Land Department meeting room in Backus; and commissioner’s board meeting 9 a.m. Jan. 3, 2023 at the boardroom in the courthouse annex in Walker.

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