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Low election turnout feared

Mike Montplaisir is worried about voter turnout for this upcoming election and the numbers may back his fears. There have been few absentee ballot application completed for the June 11 election, a fact that could indicate low voter turnout, said ...

Mike Montplaisir is worried about voter turnout for this upcoming election and the numbers may back his fears.

There have been few absentee ballot application completed for the June 11 election, a fact that could indicate low voter turnout, said the Cass County auditor.

Absentee ballots usually represent about 10 percent of the total number of ballots cast in Cass County, Montplaisir said. With little more than one week before the election, 100 absentee ballots have been requested.

"I think it (the election) is just sneaking up on people," he said.

Typically June elections draw between 17,000 and 18,000 voters. But this election is the first time city, park board and school board general elections are being held at the same time as the county and state's primary election. In addition, there are two statewide measures on the ballot.

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Montplaisir expected around 25,000 voters overall.

In the November 2000 general election Cass County residents cast a record 60,000 votes. About 6,000 of those were absentee ballots, Montplaisir said.

"Maybe there will be a real onslaught at the end," Montplaisir said. "Either that or maybe nobody cares."

Absentee ballots are usually an indicator of voter turnout, said Secretary of State Al Jaeger.

"The fact is not everyone can get to the polls, so if this segment of the population isn't coming in, that could be a reflection of what will happen June 11," he said.

But this year he hopes that indicator is wrong.

"There's certainly issues coming up in Cass County that should draw more public interest than there seems to be," he said.

Complicating this year's election is precinct boundary changes.

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Cass County added nine new precincts and nearly every one of the 57 previous precincts saw its borders change. Precinct boundaries typically change every 10 years when the North Dakota Legislature redraws district lines.

This means every voter should double check where he or she votes. Even if you've voted at Lincoln School for the past decade, that may have changed.

Maps showing the boundary changes may be found on page A19. There is also a precinct locator on the county's Web site at ( www.casscountygov.com ) under the "Elections" heading.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Erin Hemme Froslie at (701) 241-5534

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