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Frustration at long waits in a Minneapolis precinct

Posted by: James Eli Shiffer under Polling problems Updated: November 6, 2012 - 7:32 PM

From staff reporter Bill McAuliffe:

Voters in the foreground waited an hour and a half to get to this point. They probably had an hour to go  (photo by Bill McAuliffe)

Voters in the foreground waited an hour and a half to get to this point. They probably had an hour to go (photo by Bill McAuliffe)

There is plenty of frustration at the long waits in Minneapolis' Seward neighborhood. Residents of the Seward Tower East, 2910 E. Franklin Av., had a polling place (Ward 2, Precinct 9) in their own building. But they were told they were actually supposed to vote at Seward Place (Ward 6, Precinct 2), a polling location nine blocks away at 2121 9th St. S.

"It's a mess, but there is a reason," said Wayland Noland, an election judge. The precinct changes came after the city redrew its election districts.

Minneapolis City Clerk Casey Carl said the overload of voters at Seward Place was an unexpected result of the combination of redistricting and language barriers. He said that the long wait was not the result of a flood of voters from Seward Tower East, because the number of voters in that building is only a small fraction of voters in the precinct.

Carl said one goal of redistricting in Minneapolis was to create "minority opportunity" precincts in which people from certain groups would be concentrated. He said that the city couldn't anticipate how redistricting would crowd some polling places and not others.

At one point in the late afternoon, the line snaked outside the door at Seward Place, and would-be voters were standing in the rain for an hour. State Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minn., heard about the problem and asked election judges to open a different door and allow those waiting outside to enter the building.

 “I don’t believe in the death penalty, but someone at the city should be executed,” Kahn said.

One voter, Rahma Ahmed, waited two hours in line before having to leave for an appointment. Then returned, waited two and a half more hours before needing 10 minutes to cast her ballot.

Ahmed said she was angry about the long wait saying, “It doesn’t make sense.”

“I just became a citizen. I have to vote, because it’s my duty,” she said.

On Tuesday night, someone passed out ponchos, hats and pizza to those waiting to vote at Seward Place.

 

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