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Tuesday's primary election to see new polling places

Voters in some precincts may be in for a rude awakening when they go to vote in Tuesday's primary election and find the polling locations they're familiar with are no longer in use.

Harrison School in Brainerd displays an election banner in this April 10 photo about the school referendum and is one location where residents no longer can vote in the Aug. 14 primary election. Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch
Harrison School in Brainerd displays an election banner in this April 10 photo about the school referendum and is one location where residents no longer can vote in the Aug. 14 primary election. Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch
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Voters in some precincts may be in for a rude awakening when they go to vote in Tuesday's primary election and find the polling locations they're familiar with are no longer in use.

A few precincts in Brainerd-and one in Baxter-where schools were used will no longer be used for the Aug. 14 election, according to Crow Wing County Administrative Services Director Deborah Erickson.

"Through some discussions with the school district, each of those cities have chosen to change their polling locations-namely to help with some of the traffic issues and also for the safety of everybody, whether it be students or voters," Erickson said.

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Some past voting locations no longer voting sites because school district cited safety concerns

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"Voters that live in the districts that have the precincts that have changed locations have all been notified by a directing mailing letting them know what their new polling location is going to be,"

Those who voted in Ward 3, Precinct 1, at Lowell Elementary School, will now vote at the Mill Avenue fire station. And those who voted in Ward 3, precincts 2 and 3, at Garfield Elementary School will now vote at Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church on Eighth Avenue Northeast.

Voters who cast their ballots at Riverside Elementary School in Ward 2, Precinct 1, will now vote at the Essentia Health Sports Center on Jackson Street.

"We also had changes this year in the city of Crosby. All voters will be voting at Crosby City Hall this year, regardless if they are Precinct 1 or Precinct 2, and in the past, those voters who lived in Precinct 2 voted at a different location," Erickson said.

"If people go to look online, the precinct finder where you can actually put in your address, it's been updated to show where their new location of where they go to vote is."

People in Precinct P2W in Baxter who voted at Forestview Middle School will now vote at Lakewood Evangelical Free Church on North Fairview Road.

"It's a win-win on both sides. It provides better security for the schools, and it also provides better opportunity for the voters as well. We had issues with parking and accessibility at the Harrison School," in southeast Brainerd, Erickson said.

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"In some of these locations, the only place where the kids have gym class or lunch is in the gym, ... and on Election Day, it was the polling location room as well ... which made it very difficult for voters and election judges to hear and be able to concentrate on things as the day went on."

Those who voted in Ward 4, Precinct 1, at Harrison Elementary School will now vote at Carefree Living on East Oak Street.

Primary race

Most who filed by the deadline to be a candidate for an elected office in Crow Wing County will have to wait until the November general election to see what the future holds in store for them.

"For the county-level offices, the only ones that will have a primary (election) is the sheriff's race because there are three candidates there, and the purpose of the primary is to narrow it down to the top two," Erickson had said minutes after the 5 p.m. June 5 filing deadline.

Scott Goddard, a captain with the sheriff's office, Pequot Lakes Police Chief Eric Klang and sheriff's Deputy Pat Pickar will face off in Tuesday's primary before the Nov. 6 general election.

"We have historically, throughout the course of time, changed polling locations-not often but at regular intervals throughout Crow Wing County and across the state as well, as buildings change and needs change ... and it has not affected turnout in the past," Erickson said.

Early voting is available from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the elections office on the second floor of the Crow Wing County Historic Courthouse on Laurel Street in Brainerd. And people can vote by absentee ballot in person at the elections office at the historic courthouse.

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"With absentee voting, if people are concerned about not wanting to go to a certain location to vote or are not sure of where they go to vote, they are always free to vote early prior to Election Day at the courthouse as well," Erickson said.

"A lot of the times we are doing some of these changes based on the fact that-as more people are voting absentee or voting early-the need to staff a polling location ... has become less. ... Sometimes it's difficult to get enough election judges to staff all the necessary polling places."

For more information as to where to vote in the Tuesday primary election, visit mnvotes.org to find a host of election-related information.

"People can enter their address to see where their polling location is, see a copy of their sample ballot, so they'll know what it looks like and all the offices that will be on their ballot, and it will give them directions to their polling place if they're not sure how to get there," she said.

Deborah Erickson, Brainerd, was installed as president of Brainerd Rotary (noon) Club on June 24.
Crow Wing County Administrative Services Director Deborah Erickson

I cover arts and entertainment, and write feature stories, for the Brainerd Dispatch newspaper. As a professional journalist with years of experience, I have won awards for my fact-based reporting. And my articles have also appeared in other publications, including USA Today. 📰
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