If you stand outside the City/County building in Bismarck, a stream of voters are dropping off ballots.
“I’ve done it for four or five years now and it’s just easier,” Joe Heintz said.
While many are opting to vote at the mailbox or drop-off slot, there are changes for those voting in person. Burleigh County now has 15 polling locations, down from 27 in 2018. The election manager there says it’s also been more difficult hiring poll workers since many older ones decided to sit out this year over coronavirus concerns.
“A lot of our experienced election workers decided not to work this year,” said Burleigh County Election Manager Erika White. “Thankfully we’ve had quite a few younger individuals step forward.”
While all the poll worker spots are filled, White says she’s still looking to hire more on “standby.”
“Everything’s just very unpredictable,” White said. “I’m looking for 50 standby workers, and I have about 30 of them, so I do need about 20 more of them.”
Morton County Auditor Dawn Rhone says they’ve experienced some of the same things as Burleigh — like having to hire 45 new poll workers.
“Almost half of my workers couldn’t or didn’t want to work this year,” Rhone said.
They’re also having standby workers for the first time.
“If there’s an extra person there that day, they can help keep surfaces wiped down and just direct people and maybe it’ll be an easier day for the workers,” Rhone said.
Morton County will have 12 polling locations, the same number as in 2018. Rhone says the biggest change is the uptick in absentee voting. She says usually about 3,000 votes in a general election are absentee, but this year they’ve sent out more than 7,000.
“The big question is are all those people going to actually vote absentee or are they going to vote at the polls,” Rhone said.
To vote by mail, the ballot must be postmarked by Nov. 2 and sent to the county auditor. Early voting begins Oct. 21, and for those in Burleigh County, it will be at the Bismarck Event Center. For more information on how to request a ballot, track it online or learn more about the upcoming election, click here.