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Answer Man: Election results take time

Polling places closed at 8 p.m., which started a time-consuming process.

Midterm Election
"I Voted" stickers on Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Rochester.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
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Answer Man,

I was anxiously watching as election results started coming in Tuesday while I was sitting down to supper, but I didn’t see any local numbers until I was getting ready for bed. What gives? 

Why wasn’t Olmsted County able to provide us with an earlier update on home the city and county elections were unfolding? 

— Election watcher

Watcher,

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Don’t you know political discussions are bad for your digestion?

I imagine you weren’t alone in mixing a meal with a search for Election Day answers, but those results you were seeing earlier in the evening were from other states, many of which sit in a different time zone and might have different polling hours and reporting practices.

In Minnesota, most polls are open until 8 p.m., and ballots are kept at the polling locations until they close and trained election judges go through the process of tearing down the election site and preparing the recorded vote for delivery to the Olmsted County Election Center at 2122 Campus Drive SE.

Since voting machines are not connected to the internet, delivery must be done in person and under state-approved practices.

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In order to be done right, the process takes time.

As a result, my election-watching minion told me the first precincts delivered their ballots to the election center shortly after 9 p.m., which started the county staff’s process of verification and incorporating absentee ballots from those precincts into the count.

However, Luke Turner, Olmsted County’s elections manager , mentioned that absentee ballots at some polling places led to delays in the process, since they needed to be tallied and documented ahead of delivery.

I suppose I need to take some of that blame, since I’m sure my name was on the top of the list for voters when they tried to decide the best person for the job at hand. In a year like this, it’s hard to blame anyone for thinking I might be the solution.

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In addition to dealing with extra write-ins, some polling places included multiple precincts, meaning the process was likely more complicated for those judges.

With 110 precincts throughout the county, it’s understandable that the process can take time after many election judges had been working since the start of the day.

Election Day
A voter casts their ballot on Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, at Folwell Elementary School in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

When results eventually started arriving at the election center, county staff worked to accept ballots and other equipment so the hard-working judges could finally head home.

Alongside that process, the results were started being sent to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office for posting.

The first Olmsted County votes were sent after 10 p.m and started appearing online shortly after 10:30 p.m.

As work continued, precinct judges continued hand-delivering results until only one northwest Rochester polling place (with four precincts) was left to report in by 11:30 p.m.

As equipment and ballots were processed, results continued to be uploaded to the state and the final numbers ended up posting shortly after 1 a.m.

With that, the results still aren’t considered final until the Olmsted County Canvassing Board meets on Nov. 17 to study the results and hand count of four randomly selected precincts is conducted.

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Send questions to Answer Man at answerman@postbulletin.com .

Related Topics: ANSWER MANELECTION 2022ROCHESTER
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