Minneapolis prepares for high voter turnout

Early Thursday morning, workers began unloading voting equipment from a warehouse in northeast Minneapolis. It takes several days to distribute 131 ballot counters and more than 1,500 voting booths to polling places around the city. The city of Minneapolis is getting ready for an important Election Day, and is making preparations for all of its citizens. High Voter Turnout The city expects a large voter turnout on Tuesday, and to ensure that no one is turned away, there are enough ballots printed for every eligible voter in Minneapolis if they go to the polls on Election Day. Typically, the city has around 200,000 registered voters, and during the 2004 election, there was a 70 percent turnout citywide, Matt Liable, spokesman for the city of Minneapolis, said. The city is expecting around 80 percent turnout this year. In 2004, about 48,000 Minneapolis voters registered at the polls on Election Day, and itâÄôs expected to be even higher this year, which could slow things down. However, Liable also said absentee balloting is expected to be much higher than in past years. âÄúIn all of 2004 we had about 14,000 absentee ballots,âÄù he said. âÄúWe expect that to reach as high as 20,000 this year.âÄù Steven Rosenstone, a political science professor at the University, said Minnesota has historically had a high voter turnout, partly because the state allows voters to register at the polls. âÄúIn many states you need to establish your eligibility 30 days before the election,âÄù he said. âÄúBut here you can just show up on Election Day and do it.âÄù More than 138,000 voters in the state are registered for the first time, of which about 90,000 are between the ages of 18 and 29, according to information released Friday by the Office of the Secretary of State. Rosenstone said a lot of voters are inspired by Barack Obama and he suspects many more young voters will show up at the polls than usual. âÄúThe Obama campaign has done a masterful job in engaging young people in new ways with new technology,âÄù he said. Rosenstone said the city will have to make sure there is an adequate staff at each polling place to keep lines moving. The city has trained more than 2,000 election judges to divide among 131 polling places, Liable said, with between five and 15 judges per polling place. âÄúIt takes a lot of people to keep things moving,âÄù Liable said, adding that the city also trained support judges who arenâÄôt assigned to any specific precinct, but can respond to technical issues that occur on Election Day. Lines may still be long nearing the 8 p.m. poll closing. However, Rosenstone said a court order can be obtained to allow the polling place to stay open so residents can continue voting. Tips for Voters Quinn Tierney, an election judge working at the Brackett Park polling place on Tuesday, said many voters may not know that campaign paraphernalia, including clothing, isnâÄôt allowed within 100 feet of polling places. But Tierney doesnâÄôt want this to scare people away from voting. âÄúThe fact of the matter is we simply ask them to take their button off or remove a cap,âÄù he said. âÄúItâÄôs not a major confrontational thing.âÄù Tierney expects lines to be steady throughout the day. The best time to get in is between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., before the after work crowd arrives at the polls, but after the early morning rush, he said. Brian Laidlaw, a graduate student , said he plans on voting early, although he expects to wait in line regardless. âÄúI just moved to Minneapolis this fall,âÄù he said. âÄúI am registered to vote, but I donâÄôt know where my polling place is yet.âÄù Residents can find out where they should go to vote and what they should bring on the cityâÄôs website.