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FINAL RESULTS: No surprises in final Rochester, Olmsted County absentee ballots

Olmsted County, Rochester officials certify primary results, setting candidates for Nov. 3 general election

Election 2020 logo graphic

The outcome of Tuesday's primary election stands for Olmsted County and Rochester candidates.

County election officials added 1,119 absentee ballots to the city races and 201 to the single county primary contest Thursday, but the ballots that arrived by mail Wednesday and Thursday failed to change outcomes or put any candidates within striking distance of a publicly funded recount.

The primary narrows four city races and one county race to two candidates each for the Nov. 3 general election, and the latest results were approved by county and city officials Friday afternoon.

Council president

At-Large city - Main photo
Rochester City Council President candidates: Brooke Carlson and Kathleen Harrington.

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In the Rochester City Council president race, Kathleen Harrington kept her 1,289-vote lead ahead of Brooke Carlson, since they both received 393 of the 1,119 votes cast.

The pair will be on the citywide ballot for the general election.

Ward 2

Ward 2 city - Main photo
Rochester City Council Ward 2 candidates: Mark Bransford and Michael Wojcik.

In Ward 2, incumbent council member Michael Wojcik saw a one-vote bump in his standing as top vote-getter. He saw an additional 101 absentee ballots in his favor, compared to the 100 cast for challenger Mark Bransford, who received 100 votes out of the 241 added Thursday.

The current results give Wojcik nearly 43.7% of the votes, followed by Bransford with nearly 38.8% to take the second spot on the Nov. 3 ballot.

Ward 4

Ward 4 city - Main photo
Rochester City Council Ward 4 candidates: Kelly Rae Kirkpatrick and Katrina Pulham.

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In Ward 4, Kelly Rae Kirkpatrick remained close to receiving half the ballots, landing at 49.3% after gaining 65 votes in Thursday’s count.

Katrina Pulham gained 23 votes, giving her nearly 22.4% of all the votes cast and adding her name to the Ward 4 ballot to replace Mark Bilderback, who did not seek re-election.

Ward 6

Ward 6 city - Main photo
Rochester City Council Ward 6 candidates: Molly Dennis and Craig Ugland.

In Ward 6, Molly Dennis received 78 of the additional 174 absentee ballots counted Thursday. She maintained her lead with 33.2% of the votes in the election to determine who will replace Annalissa Johnson next year.

Craig Ugland remained the second top vote-getter in the six-way race, earning 23.9% of the votes after 27 votes were added to his tally Thursday.

Olmsted County

District 5 county - Main photo
Olmsted County Commissioner District 5 candidates: Jim Bier and Regina Mustafa.

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In Olmsted County's only primary race, District 5 incumbent commissioner Jim Bier remains set to face challenger Regina Mustafa in November.

Bier’s lead slipped by approximately half a percentage point, landing at 44.5% of the overall vote after he picked up 72 of the 201 added absentee ballots.

However, the number of votes between the top two candidates remained unchanged, since Mustafa also received 72 added votes in Thursday’s update.

Turnout

Approximately 24.2% of Olmsted County’s registered voters cast a ballot in the primary, with approximately 70% using absentee ballots.

In Rochester, the overall turnout was nearly 28.3%, with 71% of the votes cast on absentee ballots.

The number of votes cast eclipse results seen in recent years with presidential primaries.

In 2016, Olmsted County saw 5,323 votes cast, with only 687 being on absentee ballots. In the same year, Rochester counted 959 votes with 120 being absentee.

Four years earlier, Olmsted County saw 8,692 total primary votes, with 724 being absentee.

However, the 2018 Rochester turnout was slightly higher than this year’s, with 29% of registered voters in the primary race that included seven mayoral candidates.

The finalized results mean county and city election officials will shift focus, according to Mark Krupski, the county's director of property records and licensing operations, which includes election oversight.

"Now they can get on to the business of getting ready for the general election, because that work has already begun, " he said, pointing out absentee ballots in that election can be cast as early as Sept. 18.

Randy Petersen joined the Post Bulletin in 2014 and became the local government reporter in 2017. An Elkton native, he's worked for a variety of Midwest papers as reporter, photographer and editor since graduating from Winona State University in 1996. Readers can reach Randy at 507-285-7709 or rpetersen@postbulletin.com.
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