Greater access to mail-in ballots may lead to record June election turnout

Local News

KX News is your local election headquarters — Every county commission in our state voted this spring to conduct the June 9 election entirely by mail, because of COVID-19.

For weeks, auditors have been busy sending out ballot applications and ballots to voters. We spoke to voters like you and election officials to find out what the positives of mail-in voting are. 

“We could be hitting kind of a record for June election,” said Al Jaeger, Secretary of State.

Jaeger said more than 155,000 ballots have already been sent out. And, more than 32,000 voters like you have already returned their ballots either by mail or in drop boxes like this one.

With everything being sent straight to your home, ACLU Advocacy Director, Dane DeKrey said you may be more likely to vote because you don’t have to head to the polls.

“I understand it’s not a huge barrier to go to the polls on election day, but it is a barrier. If the line is long, and if you and if you have a crying child, I mean there’s all these situations that we can avoid by doing that if we’re serious about that premise which is, ‘We all should be able to vote and we should be able to provide it in the easiest way possible,'” DeKrey said.

DeKrey also said it gives you the opportunity to be more informed before marking your ballot.

“It gives you more time to look at your candidates and think it through. I don’t know how many times, as a pretty astute voter, do I look at down-ballot races and think, ‘I’ve never seen either of those person’s names,'” DeKrey said.

Which is something first-time mail-in voter Peter Hugret agrees with. 

“You have a chance to read it, and read it again and make sure you’re marking everything right and away you go. So, it’s easy, just throw it in the mail,” Hugret said.

We spoke to other first time mail-in voters to find out their thoughts and opinions.

“I say be glad that you can vote, first of all. That is one of the best things we can do in this country. If the wrong one gets in that you don’t like, well, you have nothing to say if you don’t vote,” said Glenn Hance, Korean War veteran.

“Because I want to get the Republicans to get in,” said Emanuel Klein, Korean War veteran.

“Sending in a ballot, for me, is just the idea of remembering to do it in time, so my vote will count,” said Kate Turnbow, Minot resident.

To make sure your vote counts, your ballot needs to be postmarked no later than June 8 or dropped off at a dropbox location no later than 4 p.m. on June 9.

But, not everyone agrees with the decision to have an election entirely by mail.

“I disagree with the mail-in voting. I just feel like there’s too much tampering that can be done with it. If people can go to the grocery store and buy food, then you can go and vote,” said Edgar Acosta, Watford City resident.

Ward County Auditor Devra Smestad said there are several measures being taken to prevent voter fraud.

When you apply to vote, election workers double check things like your date of birth, driver’s license number, address and the signature and date on your application.

After the voter fills out their ballot and sends it back, staff double check the signature on the back of the envelope to make sure it matches the one on the application. 

And there is an extra layer of protection for your ballot.

“We want to make sure that everybody puts their ballot in a secrecy envelope so when we pull these apart, the ballot is still secure, nobody can see how anybody voted until they mix them up and start pulling those ballots from the secrecy sleeves. And that way their voting remains confidential as well,” Smestad said.

Smestad also said the ballots they’ve already received are stored in a vault.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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