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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Election officials prepare to count absentee ballots

Monday, October 29, 2012

Carla Robinson fills out a voter registration form at the Plymouth County Auditor's Office. Robinson, a senior at Akron-Westfield Community Schools, cast an absentee ballot Saturday.
Carla Robinson, of Akron, registered to vote for the first time in Plymouth County Saturday and filled out an absentee ballot in the county auditor's office.

Robinson, a senior at Akron-Westfield Community Schools, learned about government when she attended Girls State this past summer, she said.

"I wanted to exercise my right to vote," Robinson said.

Robinson is one of more than 4,000 Plymouth County residents who have chosen to vote using an absentee ballot rather than going to a voting location on election day, which is Nov. 6.

Seventy-six people cast absentee ballots Saturday. The auditor's office will also be open this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The early voting results from absentee ballots will be tallied through a process beginning Nov. 5 at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars, according to Stacey Feldman, Plymouth County auditor.

Election officials for absentee voting will meet a week from today to review affidavits signed by absentee voters as part of the paperwork for the sealed absentee ballots, she said.

The absentee ballots returned by mail, cast in the auditor's or at satellite voting locations earlier this month will not be counted before election day.

"When they say count they mean open them and actually put them in a machine to have the ballot read electronically for counting," Feldman said.

The work that's done before Nov. 6 is called accepting the ballot, she said.

For example, the absentee election workers will verify information on the absentee affidavit envelopes with the voter registration list to verify everything is filled out that is required of the absentee voter.

The following day, Nov. 6, absentee election officials return to the courthouse, she said.

Their work is to electronically submit the absentee ballots to be read by computer equipment which tallies the votes.

Ballots postmarked before election day, but arriving in the mail on election day will be given to the absentee election workers to count, she said.

"Mail comes in the morning and the workers are usually here to 3, 4 or 5 o'clock," Feldman said.

Ballots cast by voters who may be in the wrong precinct on Nov. 6 are considered provisional ballots and are not processed at the polls.

Instead, those ballots are reviewed by the absentee vote election workers two days after the election, Nov. 8.

Absentee ballots which have arrived after Nov. 6, but were postmarked by the Nov. 5 deadline are also counted on Nov. 8.

The Veterans Day holiday will change the timelines for counting the absentee ballots which are delivered after Nov. 8, according to Feldman.

The courthouse is closed Monday, Nov. 12 in observance of Veterans Day, she said.

Tuesday, Nov. 13 is the first day that week the auditor's office will receive mail.

Some of the mail may contain absentee ballots postmarked by the Nov. 5 deadline, she said.

The auditor's office must wait for mail delivery until noon Nov. 13 for all the absentee ballots to be counted by the election workers, Feldman said.

"If what we have received by mail at that point in time is a ballot that was postmarked on Nov. 5, it can then be opened and counted," she said.

The same group of election workers that processed absentee ballots for voting and provisional ballots will return Nov. 13 to handle any additional absentee ballots received in the mail.

The absentee voting process is complete when members of the Plymouth County Board of Supervisors review all election results in what is formally called a canvass on Nov. 13, according to Feldman.

The date county supervisors review and finalize election results didn't change due to the Veterans Day holiday.

"They just moved back the date of the acceptance of the mail because ... it's a federal holiday and there wouldn't be mail on Monday," Feldman said.

Voters who plan to cast their ballots on election day may go to the polls between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

People with election questions may call the auditor's office at 546-6100.

Voters may cast ballots this Saturday

The Plymouth County Auditor's Office will be open this Saturday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. for voting of absentee ballots for the Nov. 6 election.

Absentee voting Saturday is in the auditor's office at the Plymouth County Courthouse, 215 Fourth Ave. S.E., Le Mars, according to a press release from Stacey Feldman, Plymouth County auditor.

People who want to fill out an absentee ballot this Saturday are asked to enter the building through the north lower level entrance of the courthouse.

Absentee ballots may also be filled out in the auditor's office between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

People may vote on election day Tuesday, Nov. 6 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Anyone with election questions may call the auditor's office at 546-6100.

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