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From staff reporter Bill McAuliffe:
"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.
After a day of blogging about broken tabulators, polling place confrontations and improper electioneering, Whistleblower was still receiving reports from perturbed voters Wednesday. Many want to know: Where can I file a complaint?
The secretary of state’s office (651-215-1440) advises that it’s up to county attorneys to investigate and prosecute state election law violations, such as voting by an ineligible person or an employers’ failure to allow workers time off to vote. A list of county attorneys is here. The secretary of state does provide a state election law complaint form on its "Protecting Election Integrity" page. Problems with polling places or elections staff can be reported to the city clerk or the county elections manager.
Suspected violations of your federal voting rights, such as discriminatory treatment, can be reported to the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, (800-253-3931) or on this page.
Tom Harty of Golden Valley said he finds it objectionable that Christian Life Center, home to election Precinct 7 in Golden Valley, displays the following messages on its lighted sign:
Side One: "SHOULD WE OBEY GOD OR THE POLLS? VOTE NOVEMBER 2ND"
Side Two: "IF AMERICA IS TO SURVIVE WE MUST ELECT MORE GOD-CENTERED MEN TO PUBLIC OFFICE"
Here's what Harty has to say:
In my opinion the signage has a blatant political message and advocates applying a religious litmus test to prospective candidates. I believe this is in violation of election rules and is inappropriate for a polling place.
When asked about the sign the elections officials handed out a flyer saying they had asked the pastor to take down the sign. The pastor claimed his message was not related to any candidate.
Sue Virnig, the Golden Valley city clerk, isn't thrilled about the sign, but noted that it was more than 100 feet from the entrance to the polling place. "We did ask the church to remove them and they chose not to," Virnig said. She said the city is always looking for alternative locations for election precincts, but the need for parking makes them hard to find.
A woman (who understandably doesn't want to be identified) asks this Election Day question: "What do you do if your employer says you can’t leave early to vote?" She wanted to vote at lunchtime, but her boss said no.
204C.04 EMPLOYEES; TIME OFF TO VOTE.
Subdivision 1.Right to be absent.
Every employee who is eligible to vote in an election has the right to be absent from work for the time necessary to appear at the employee's polling place, cast a ballot, and return to work on the day of that election, without penalty or deduction from salary or wages because of the absence. An employer or other person may not directly or indirectly refuse, abridge, or interfere with this right or any other election right of an employee.
Subd. 2.Elections covered.
For purposes of this section, "election" means a regularly scheduled state primary or general election, an election to fill a vacancy in the office of United States senator or United States representative, or an election to fill a vacancy in the office of state senator or state representative.
A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor, and the county attorney shall prosecute the violation
The Secretary of State's office advises that it's up to county attorneys to investigate and prosecute violations of this law. Does your employer let you get out to vote?
Guillermo Narvaez sent this photo of a car parked near the entrance to the polling place at Galtier Elementary School in St. Paul. He said the car and the campaign sign for Teresa Collett, who is running against Betty McCollum in the 4th Congressional District, have been outside the school since 8 a.m.
Election officials and police were notified, but as of 2:30 pm, it is still there, in an area clearly identified as Voter Parking Only ... Seems like a small matter, if it is part of an aggregate, then it is a flagrant violation of the states electoral laws and the candidates should take notice.
Ramsey County Elections Manager Joe Mansky said if the car is within 100 feet of the building, it would be a violation of a state law that prohibits soliciting near polling places. It's a petty misdemeanor to violate the law. Here's the language of the law:
A person may not display campaign material, post signs, ask, solicit, or in any manner try to induce or persuade a voter within a polling place or within 100 feet of the building in which a polling place is situated, or anywhere on the public property on which a polling place is situated, on primary or election day to vote for or refrain from voting for a candidate or ballot question.
Mansky said he believed an election judge at the school had called the police, but "I don't know that anybody has the authority to tow the car." Typically, election judges will try to find the owner of the car or contact the campaign, he said. If that doesn't work, he said anyone can file a complaint with the Office of Administrative Hearings. Violators could be subject to a $300 fine.
Todd Henderson, Collett's campaign manager, said he hadn't heard of the situation involving the car, but the campaign had sent out "strict instructions" to supporters about displaying campaign material.
Have you seen any questionable campaign material near a polling place today?
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