Blue Earth County nears election judge goal, still short

Many judges stepped down earlier this year due to COVID-19
Many judges stepped down earlier this year due to COVID-19.
Updated: Sep. 29, 2020 at 5:50 AM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - Election judges, or poll workers, are trained to help out with a variety of tasks on Election Day.

Some, like Head Judge Linda McDonald, have been helping for years.

“I have enjoyed it. I enjoy working with the community and the people being appreciative for being able to come out and vote and having us help them," she said.

Others, like Emma Fuhrman, who also works as an elections administrative specialist, are brand new election judges.

“I would say it’s just getting to speak with the people. And, you know, their energy is usually so excited just to be there," she said.

In a year full of elections, it’s been busy.

But when the pandemic hit, Blue Earth County said they needed to nearly double their pool of judges after many stepped down.

Blue Earth County generally needs to fill at least 250 election judge spots, according to County Elections Administrator Michael Stalberger.

“So we’ve got about 100 that are coming from August, and then we’ve got another group of 100 right now that are trained, meet the requirements and could be placed if the election were tomorrow. So that puts us at 200 judges," he said.

Stalberger said they’re close to filling that need.

“However, they all aren’t working full days, and so we’re still a little bit short," he added.

Stalberger said that he hopes potential judges who have expressed interest but haven’t completed training will do so.

He also said the county is still short election judges not affiliated with any party or affiliated with the Republican party.

“My responsibility as the elections administrator is to make sure that all of our parties are represented in the polling place on Election Day," he said.

Stalberger said the elections office has been busy ever since early voting began on Sept. 18th.

Over 1,300 voters have participated in early voting so far in Blue Earth County.

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