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Voter turnout slow and steady in Grand Forks

George Finn feeds his ballot into the ballot box at Wilder Elementary as inspector JoAnn Brown looks on Tuesday. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Voter turnout in Grand Forks County appeared dramatically down Tuesday compared to previous years.

With 25 of 27 precincts in the county reporting Tuesday night, there were 3,150 ballots cast, according to the North Dakota Secretary of State’s website.

The vote total on the website also doesn’t include early or absentee voter numbers.

“It’s been slow but steady,” County Auditor Debbie Nelson said about Tuesday’s turnout.

In June 2010, 6,983 county residents voted and in June 2006, the total was 5,225.

The two precincts not tallied at press time Tuesday were in Northwood and Larimore.

The state’s new voter identification law caused some confusion, according to election officials. In the past, voters only had to bring a utility bill to prove residency but now must provide valid ID, such as state-issued ID or tribal ID.

Tom Harlow, an election inspector at the Alerus Center, said he had to turn away some older voters.

Laura Munski, an election inspector at UND’s Gorecki Alumni Center, said she had to turn away three unhappy students. “They made the effort to come, but then they had to go home.”

But, Harlow said, “for the most part, things have been going really well.”

It went well for election judges as well.

At Winship Elementary School in Grand Forks, Madison Diemert, 16, joked she was among the youngest election clerks “by at least 30 years.” She said she enjoyed visiting with the older folks. “I think they’re kind of adorable.”

Staff Writer Kevin Bonham, Charly Haley and Jennifer Johnson contributed to this story.

Kevin Bonham

Kevin Bonham covers regional news, mostly from northeast North Dakota, for the Grand Forks Herald. A North Dakota native who grew up in Mandan and Dickinson, he has been a reporter or an editor with the Herald and Forum Communications for more than 30 years. Find his articles at: He welcomes story ideas via email,, or by phone, (701) 780-1110.  

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