Election Day upgrade proposed, problems reviewed, in Minneapolis City Clerk’s report

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Minneapolis City Clerk Casey Carl apologized to voters for election day problems, and proposed future improvements in his election report at City Hall Monday.

Carl cited record election day turnout as one of the biggest reasons for election day headaches.

Minneapolis’ voter turnout rate was 81 percent, which marked the highest turnout rate in the city since the 1940s, Carl said.

Although total voting numbers were up, the number of pre-registered voters was down by 11 percent. This led to long lines and frustration, Carl said.

Faulty election equipment, including vote counters and pens that didn’t work, also contributed to election day problems.

Ward 7 Councilwoman Lisa Goodman said St. Paul reported results a lot faster than Minneapolis, and improvements had to be looked into.

Carl said Minneapolis’ outdated election machines were the reason vote reporting was so delayed.

“Our fleet of election machines are more than 10 years old,” he said. “They must be replaced.”

Goodman said more students should be recruited to serve as election judges to help speed up the process.

According to the report, 260 students representing nine schools worked on election day. That was a record high, and about a fifth of the students were fluent in a second language.

Carl said he was thrilled with the turnout of student judges.

“It’s a positive experience [for students], and one that I’d like to see us increase,” he said,

One of the improvements Carl proposed for future elections was instituting early voting. This would need legislative approval, but Carl said Gov. Mark Dayton and the Legislature should be open to the idea of early voting.

Minnesota is one of only 15 states that doesn’t allow early voting.

Ward 2 Councilman Cam Gordon, who’s chairs the city’s Election Committee, said he was glad to see early voting brought up as an improvement.

“I was very excited to see some legislative ideas put forward.” Gordon said. “I think it’s time we opened [early voting] up.”