Alex Rohr, spokesman for North Dakota’s Democratic-NPL Party, said about 3,100 mail-in ballots were requested this year. Fewer than 3,400 people voted in the state’s Democratic caucus in 2016, so turnout was expected to be much higher this time, especially after now allowing mail-in ballots.
The party had to put out an urgent call for volunteers to help cope with long lines at the location in Fargo, the state’s biggest and most populous city. Some voters waited as long as an hour to vote, and lines were lengthening for the evening rush.
In Minot, lines wrapped the IBEW building into the parking lot and poll workers said it was some of the longest they had ever seen. Most Democrats said they didn’t mind the wait and said they were happy to see so many of their own turnout.
Heidi Heitkamp, a prominent Democrat from North Dakota, said more North Dakotans have voted in the first three hours than in the entirety of the 2016 caucus, and the state had a record number of mail-in ballots. Heitkamp said the state’s on a pace to beat 2008 records.
Bernie Sanders won North Dakota four years ago under the old caucus format. This year’s caucus is different in that voters can cast a ballot and leave, instead of staying for several rounds of voting to make sure their vote was counted.
Fourteen delegates are up for grabs. Polls closed at 7 p.m., and votes will be counted by machines in Burleigh County and Cass County. A third-party election vendor will tabulate and produce results.