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Ready, set vote! Primary Election is Tuesday, Aug. 14

Carlton County Auditor Paul Gassert reckons it's a safe bet the turnout for Tuesday's primary election will be substantially higher than two years ago, when only 1,400 people voted in the county.

The only local races on the ballot in 2016 were judicial. This year, Cloquet has two City Council races and a mayor's race in the primary, and the District 4 county commissioner race has five candidates. This is also the first election in Minnesota since 1978 that both U.S. Senate seats and the governorship are up for election in the same year.

The local races are listed on the back of the ballot. Federal and state races are listed by party on the front: two U.S. Senate races, U.S. House of Representatives District 8, governor and lieutenant governor and attorney general.

Votes can't be cast for candidates of more than one party. Local races are nonpartisan.

Voters don't have to bring identification Tuesday unless they need to register before voting. In that case, Gassert recommends bringing a current driver's license or another picture ID that also includes a current address. If the license is expired, a voter should also bring a current utility bill with address, or a neighbor or another resident of their ward to vouch for them. Gassert said election judges can also vouch for residents they know.

Gassert said 200 people had voted by absentee ballot as of 1 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 7. Approximately 50 of those voted in advance from three nursing homes; another 50 voted by mail. Another 100 people have walked through the door at the courthouse to vote, he said. Absentee voting will be available through Monday.

Preparations for the primary election are on track, Gassert said. The county has several new voting tabulators this year, which work similarly to the older machines.

After voting by coloring in the ovals next to their preferred candidates, voters insert their ballots into the tabulator, which scans the blackened ovals. The machine tabulates results onto a hard-copy paper receipt, which is printed following the close of polls, and an encrypted card or USB flash drive, depending on the tabulator model.

The auditor said he believes the election devices are secure.

"Those devices aren't connected in any way to a modem, which means no hacker vulnerability, in my opinion," Gassert said.


Vote now or later

The Carlton County Auditor's Office will be open for absentee voting, in addition to regular office hours, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, and until 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 13. The office is located in the Carlton County Courthouse, 301 Walnut Ave., Carlton.

Most local polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 14, for the primary election. Voters in line by 8 p.m. can vote even if they don't reach the front of the line until after 8 p.m.

Find your polling place on the Secretary of State's website at or call the Auditor's Office at 218-384-9127.