Olmsted County prepares for election day

It's expecting more voter turn out based on how many people have already voted.

Posted: Nov 2, 2018 12:04 PM

ROCHESTER, Minn. - For many, election day means a few moments at a voting booth. But for Olmsted County employees, it means months of preparation to make sure the big day and weeks leading up to it, go on without a hitch. 

"It's like planning a giant wedding," Heather Bestler, Olmsted County Property Tax and Elections Manager, said. 

Like planning a wedding, planning election day is no easy task. 

"We have a lot of things in motion right now. We have head judges picking up their supplies out for the polling places, we're opening the ballot envelopes, we're processing people who are getting through to do their voting here, we're also processing any applications we're getting in," Bestler said. 

To get all the work done, Bestler has 20 extra staff on hand. 

"They help us process all the ballots we've received in," she said. 

As of Wednesday, the county has already received 16,431 ballots. Bestler said this is as much as the county saw in the 2016 Presdiential election. She said the county is seeing a major increase in absentee voting. 

In the 2014 midterm election, the county saw about 6,000 absentee ballots. So far in the 2018 midterm election, over 12,000 people have absentee voted. 

Now that the election is less than a week away, the county can start opening the absentee ballots to look for write in candidates. But, the votes can't be counted just yet. 

"We're not actually allowed to hit count until 8pm on election day," she said. 

Which means the biggest hurdle is still ahead: election day. 

"It's stressful at times, but it's fun and very rewarding," Bestler said. 

The county is adding additional hours to help with all the voter turn out this year. It's already extended early voting hours two days and will do it again on Saturday. 

On Saturday, November 3, people can vote at the government offices from 9am-5pm. 

On election day, all polling places will be open 7am-8pm.

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