Cass County Commission stands by decision not to hold in-person polling at primary election
Ballots for the June 9th primaries will be cast through the mail
FARGO, N.D. — In the June 9th primary, North Dakotans will be able to narrow down candidates for statewide offices, legislative races and county commissioners. They will also cast their final votes for city commissioners and school board members.
Everyone will still be able to vote, but they will have to do it by mail-in ballots.
City officials say the decision not to have in-person polling sites is in the best interest of the public, as there is nearly no way to abide by social distancing guidelines.
They are concerned with finding people to work the polls.
“We have the worker problem. Would you be willing to sit there for 13 hours, facing everybody who walks in who is going to come in and put their face in your face?” asked Cass County Finance director Michael Montplaisir.
Officials say another problem would be the large number of people in attendance at one time. In order to adhere to social distancing, it would mean voters would be at the polls for a long period.
“If you have 1,000 or 2,000 or 4,000 people show up, it is not just the workers there for 13 hours, it’s the voters. How happy are those voters going to be that normally would stay for 15, 20 minutes, maybe an hour? I think they are going to be pretty frustrated,” said Cass County Commission chairman Chad Peterson.
There are concerns no in-person voting sites would prevent some people from being able to cast their ballot because they would be unaware of the changes come election day.
The county says it is doing all it can to inform as many people as possible and the Secretary of State’s office has been sending out applications for ballot requests.
“They sent out over 80,000 applications to Cass County residents,” said Montplaisir. “They are doing follow up mailings to those who just turned 18, people who have just moved into the state. We will also be publishing an application in the mail.”
Of the 53 counties in the state, 33 already require mail-in ballots so officials are confident it can work well in Cass County.