Voting action fast, furious at area precincts
A steady stream of voters at Perham City Hall started at 7 a.m. with a line from the entry doors to the parking lot.
By the end of the day, combined absentee and election day ballots totalled 1,408 in Perham--probably the highest voter turnout in the town's history. This compares to 1,305 ballots cast at the 2004 presidential election, and only 980 ballots in 2006, a non-presidential year.
A whopping 361 new registrations were recorded at the Perham city precinct.
The pace at the Perham precinct was rapid for the first hours. Ballots were cast at a rate of two per minute in the first 15 minutes the precinct was open.
By 9:30 a.m., 332 votes were cast--which was already a third of the number of votes cast in the 2006, non-presidential year election.
Meanwhile, at the Pine Lake Township precinct, votes were being cast at a rate of one per minute--with 60 voters in the doors between 7 and 8 a.m.
"We're keeping busy," said Pine Lake election judge Joe Hemmelgarn.
Perham Township voters were right next door to Pine Lake at the Perham Area Community Center precinct.
First time voters were numerous in the area.
"I believe in change," said 20-year-old Kati Westlund, who moved to Perham from Grey Eagle. She arrived at the Perham precinct about 7:15 a.m. after working the overnight shift at Kenny's Candies.
"I was a little nervous at first," said Westlund, after her first time voting. But she said she was inspired to vote because of the importance of this election, and the high profile that it has had over the past year.
At the Perham Township precinct, two Perham High School seniors voted for their first time: Casey Rutten and D.J. Altstadt.
There were seven newly registered voters within the first two hours at the Perham Township precinct.
At the Perham city precinct, this year's ballot total of 1,408 compares to 1,305 in 2004, and 1,253 in the 2000 presidential election.