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VIDEO: Power outage causes minor voting disruptions in Grand Forks

A power outage affected almost 2,000 customers in Grand Forks on Tuesday afternoon -- but for at least one set of voting precincts, it was no problem.

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A power outage affected almost 2,000 customers in Grand Forks on Tuesday afternoon -- but for at least one set of voting precincts, it was no problem.

Voting in Ward 3 at precincts 1 and 2 continued in the dark, with residents filing in to cast ballots in the dim glow of emergency lights. Voter Sally Akerlind said everyone seemed to be taking the slight setback in stride.

“I didn’t notice at first, because it was light in the entryway,” she said. “I guess I’ve never voted in Grand Forks before, so I didn’t know what to expect. But they seemed to handle it pretty well.”

Parts of the city lost power around 2 p.m. Mark Nisbet, principal manager of Xcel, said underground wires at 322 DeMers Ave. were the cause of the outage. The wires were “bad” and needed to be replaced, he said.

Just before 4 p.m., Randy Fordice, another spokesman for Xcel Energy, said more than three-quarters of those impacted had power restored. The remaining customers were expected to have electricity soon.

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At City Hall, election officials said the only process immediately disrupted was the electronic printing of voting receipts, which can easily be replaced by a written process. However, Donna Larson, election inspector for the voting location, said the ballot machines have a four-hour battery life, and that computerized voter ID systems had been running on battery power.

Donna Schaffer, an election judge at City Hall, said one voter who was present when the lights flickered out was offered a cellphone with a flashlight to finish voting.

City Administrator Todd Feland said though City Hall’s generator did not initially start up, there was no impact on voting.

Businesses coped as they could with the outage. At Dakota Harvest Bakers, retail manager Rachel Perry said their business still was selling some baked goods, though they were temporarily unable to sell coffee and sandwiches.

“Sell a cookie to someone and make them happier during a power outage, right?”

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