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For some southern Minnesota voters, the primary wasn’t the only change they saw this election

Updated: Mar. 3, 2020 at 7:21 PM CST
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — For some southern Minnesota voters, the presidential nomination primary is not the only election change they are experiencing.

Several Mankato voters, like Joshua Jaren, cast their ballot at new polling place Bethlehem Lutheran Church.

Meanwhile, Garden City Township switched purely to voting by mail.

“Excellent, it was very concise. Everyone was friendly," Jaren said about his experience voting at the church.

While in Mankato, the church’s election is run by Blue Earth County, which added the new location to replace one at the Historic Blue Earth County Courthouse.

Blue Earth County Elections Administrator Michael Stalberger said the county worked with the church in advance to make sure everything was ready for election day.

“Again we look at it from an accessibility point. Are the doors accessible? Do they have assists on there and that sort of thing? And then once we find out that that’s a good fit, we make sure that the church is ready to accept us," he said.

It’s not the only change some southern Minnesota voters experienced.

With just under 500 registered voters, Garden City Township decided to make the switch to mail-in voting, according to Garden City Township Clerk Liz Thiesse.

According to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website, all non-metropolitan townships and cities with less than 400 registered voters can choose to hold elections by mail.

“Our team really took a long, hard look at this option to go into mail-in ballots, and we started researching our options back in 2016 in the last election," Thiesse said.

One deciding factor was the cost of holding elections and hiring election judges, who are in charge of administering election procedures.

Election judge wages vary by city and county.

For example, in Blue Earth County, pay is at least minimum wage.

According to Stalberger, it costs the county $8 per vote cast during an election year.

“And so that’s a really hard number to kind of contextualize, because we’re talking about staffing, we’re talking about renting equipment, paying for maintenance and that sort of stuff," Stalberger said.

Minnesota is one of 14 states participating in Super Tuesday.

Seventy-five delegates are up for grabs.

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