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Primary election day arrives

Town halls and other polling places throughout Crow Wing County buzzed with activity Tuesday, Aug. 9, as election judges performed their duties and voters cast their ballots for their favorite candidates during the state’s primary election.

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Jerry and Agnes Stevens from Unorganized Territory on Aug. 9, 2022, enter The Woods Event Center to vote in the primary election.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
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EDITOR’S NOTE: The Brainerd Dispatch print edition went to press before polls closed Tuesday night, but area and state primary election results can be found at brainerddispatch.com and in Wednesday’s Brainerd Dispatch e-edition.

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Dave Grotzke checks in with election judge Kathy Hegstrom Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, at The Woods Event Center to vote in the primary election.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Town halls and other polling places throughout Crow Wing County buzzed with activity Tuesday, Aug. 9, as election judges performed their duties and voters cast their ballots for their favorite candidates during the state’s primary election.

The contests will determine which candidates will appear on the ballot for the Nov. 8 general election, including those for governor and lieutenant governor, secretary of state and attorney general. Several local races also feature enough candidates to prompt a primary.

Deborah Erickson, Crow Wing County administrative services director and elections head, said Tuesday morning the operation appeared to be running smoothly, minus a few minor questions here and there from those staffing the polls.

“It’s always interesting in the primary, where they (election judges) haven’t done it now for a couple of years. So it’s kind of their learning process again of how everything needs to get set up, get their traffic flows good for all of their voters who are coming in and to make sure that they have their polling places set up the way they should be,” Erickson said.

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Darlene Clark votes Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Brainerd during the primary election.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Erickson said the number of absentee and mail ballots received ahead of Tuesday’s election was down compared to the primary in 2018, the last midterm election. In 2018, about 2,300 absentee and mail ballots were received out of 13,200 voters. This year, about 1,600 ballots came in ahead of Election Day.

One major difference between this year and 2018, however, is the lack of a countywide primary race. The race for Crow Wing County sheriff required a primary that year, while this year, primaries are district specific with the exception of the statewide races.

“Local primaries seem to encourage turnout in a primary election more so than your state or legislative races will,” she said.

The Dispatch will be following the results in several local races, including Crow Wing County Board District 3, Brainerd City Council wards 1 and 4, senate districts 5 and 10, and house districts 5B, 6B and 10A. Other primary election results will also be gathered and published at BrainerdDispatch.com .

Reporter’s notebook

Brainerd runs smoothly

About 90 Ward 2 voters in Brainerd cast their ballots as of 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, and judges said all was running smoothly.

“We’ve had quite a number of voters,” Precinct 1 Head Judge Toni Gage said. “I’ve heard this morning we are No. 1.”

While Precinct 2 was a little slower, judges said it was a good trial run for the general election in November.

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“It’s a lot of hurry up and wait,” Precinct 2 Head Judge Dave Ridel said. “The big part of our job is after the polls close. We have to make sure all the numbers match.”

Judges were patiently waiting for lunch, with the promise of pizza on their minds, and ready for another boost of caffeine to get them through the long night ahead. —Theresa Bourke

Baxter sees steady voters

Both of Baxter’s Precinct 1’s polling locations were over 10% of voters around 4 p.m. Tuesday and judges said the flow of voters was pretty steady.

“Our voting registrants are (around) 2,300 and we've had 265 so far,” said Precinct 1 East Head Judge, Darlene Swedin.

Precinct 1 East is the largest precinct in Baxter and everything was running smoothly, poll workers said. The only confusion was with the voters themselves. Many voters from the wrong precinct showed up to Lord of Life Church instead of Lakewood Church, the new polling place for Precinct 2 West since it was moved from Forestview Middle School.

Precinct 1 West was having a similar experience as the other polling spot. It had been a steady day and the judges mentioned that they expected a small peak of voters after the average work day ends.

“It's about normal for a primary year,” said Precinct 1 West Head Judge Doreen Eisland. “It's been steady. Usually after people start getting off work, we get a little bit of an increase, but we think it's a good experience to get ready for the general election.”

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For many of these election judges, this is the first time working an election. The primary serves as a good way to prepare them for the general election later this year, officials said. —Sara Guymon

Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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