Few problems with Dakota County voting process

Strong voter turnout in state, county

The voting process went smoothly in most Dakota County precincts last week, although there were some problems with some of the county’s 14-year-old ballot counting machines.

Unbeknownst to election judges at Apple Valley Precinct 5A, the electronic results they had submitted to the county after polls closed were not transmitted to the county due to memory card failure.

“We used a backup card, and it transmitted the first time we attempted to send it,” said Pam Gackstetter, city clerk and election administrator for Apple Valley.

A ballot counting machine in Farmington stopped working immediately when polls opened, said Cindy Muller, city clerk and election coordinator.

“It stopped working on the first one,” she said. “So voters just put ballots in the auxiliary slot and they brought a new machine.”

The motor in a ballot counter used in South St. Paul also broke early in the day, said Dakota County Elections and Vital Statistics Manager Andy Lokken.

It was replaced with an extra stored at the county’s Northern Service Center.

Lokken said by 2014, the county is slated to have new election equipment at all polling locations.

“Dakota County was among several counties granted some equipment money,” he said. “We are working with the municipalities to put together their contributions and then purchase the equipment in the next year or two,” he said.

The county also received complaints about an election judge who some said was too detailed in explaining that not voting on the amendments equalled a “no” vote.

Other concerns reported were of children being present and a church that displayed signs stating the Biblical description of marriage, Lokken said.

Voter turnout was strong across the county and state.

According to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website, over 76 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the state, and Dakota County boasted a 96.4 percent turnout.

Gackstetter and Muller said voting was heaviest in the morning.

“Here at City Hall, our first voter was waiting in line at 6:05 a.m.,” Gackstetter said. Polls opened at 7 a.m.

“It was an extremely busy day,” Muller said.