Long lines, lawn signs and ballot question no-nos

With Laura Yuen and Elizabeth Dunbar.

The polls in Minnesota have been open for more than two hours, and we’re already getting reports about wait times and other snags on Election Day.

Joe Mansky, Ramsey County elections administrator, says that his office has received a few complaints about election judges telling voters that a blank vote on the constitutional amendments is counted as a “no” vote, which they are not allowed to do. Instead, election judges have been instructed to tell voters to read their ballot instructions.

Meanwhile, MPR reporters who voted this morning reported long lines and long wait times at various polling places in the Twin Cities area. Here are a few snapshots:

At the Holy Spirit Church in St. Paul’s Mac Groveland neighborhood, the wait was about 40 minutes.

At MLK Park in Minneapolis, more than 200 people formed two lines to vote, but lines were moving well.

In the Kenwood neighborhood of Minneapolis, a long line stretching down the block with wait time more than 30 minutes.

Lines at VFW at Lyndale and 29th in Minneapolis are very long. One man said he waited for more than an hour to vote.

At the Central Park Gym in south central Minneapolis, at least 200 people are in line and the wait is between 45 and 60 minutes. Some are jumping the line, making other voters a little testy. Elderly people who can’t stand are being moved to the front.

My polling place at the Neill High Rise on Laurel Ave. in St. Paul had its own share of confusion. Several voters showed up having already registered to vote only to find their names were not on voter rolls. As a result, they were asked to register on site. The problem appeared to have something to do with redistricting.

There have also been scattered reports of voters seeing lawn signs or messages related to the marriage amendment at churches also serving as polling places, which is not allowed.

According to MPR’s Elizabeth Dunbar:

That included Saint John Vianney in South St. Paul, where a banner that read “Strengthen Marriage, don’t redefine it” could be seen by voters entering the church.

“I was shocked, I didn’t think that would be allowed,” said Ivan Kowalenko, who tweeted a photo of the sign. “II was hearing that you’re not allowed to wear any political slogan of your own, so it doesn’t seem entirely appropriate that a voting venue would be allowed to express an opinion.”

A church official reached shortly after Kowalenko voted said the sign has been removed.

  • Andrew Smith

    My polling place, the First Congregational Church at 500 8th Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414 is displaying rainbow flags from its steeple. I feel this is bringing improper political influence into the polling place.

  • Ali E.

    Andrew, many churches have rainbow flags hanging year-round to indicate that all families are welcome in that space. Most of these places of worship had rainbow flags long before there ever was a marriage amendment on the ballot.

  • DaveE

    Andrew, the rainbow was in the bible long, long before it was a symbol for a movement.

  • Michael

    30 second wait time in Fridley this morning at 8:30.

    I waited longer for the lady to peel off the “I Voted” sticker than I did in line.

  • marget

    When I voted in Plymouth this a.m. the election judge was instructing each voter that not voting on the amendments was like a no vote. I didn’t think that was right. Thanks for clarifying in your story that it wasn’t. I have called the city clerk to register a complaint and encourage others to do so.

  • Alissa

    The election judge @ the Word of Life Church in Coon Rapids is also telling people that if you don’t vote on the amendments it will be counted as a no.

  • JJ

    The sample ballots from the Sec. of State’s office says:

    “Failure to vote on a constitutional andment will have the same effect as voting no on the amendment.”

    It sounds like the election judges were right.

  • JS

    it’s not they were incorrect, the election judges are not allowed to give any direction in regards to the ballots.

  • mbl

    JJ,

    The article states that, while the information is correct, it is against the rules.

    At Mt. Olivet Church, 50th & France, an election official volunteered the information that blank=no.

    I was wearing my VOTE NO shirt (it didn’t occur to me that my personal choice for clothing could be a violation. As I was leaving, an official asked me if I had had my coat buttoned when I voted. I said “no” and was told that I should have. What would they have done if I didn’t have a coat? Sent me home? Made me turn my shirt inside out?

    I knew that signs were not allowed, but clothing? What if I had worn a royal blue shirt with a caution orange scarf? Where will the madness end?!?

    I did report the blank=no violation to the county clerk.

  • mbl

    JJ,

    The article states that, while the information is correct, it is against the rules.

    At Mt. Olivet Church, 50th & France, an election official volunteered the information that blank=no.

    I was wearing my VOTE NO shirt (it didn’t occur to me that my personal choice for clothing could be a violation. As I was leaving, an official asked me if I had had my coat buttoned when I voted. I said “no” and was told that I should have. What would they have done if I didn’t have a coat? Sent me home? Made me turn my shirt inside out?

    I knew that signs were not allowed, but clothing? What if I had worn a royal blue shirt with a caution orange scarf? Where will the madness end?!?

    I did report the blank=no violation to the county clerk.

    I just looked it up and, apparently in MN but not some other states, it is a violation to wear campaign ware. Crazy.

  • JJ

    Ah, I see. Thanks, JS & mbl.

    I wonder if it would be worth the money and effort for the state to do some pre-election “dos and don’ts” TV ads so that honest/ignorant mistakes are not made by the unsuspecting voters.

  • jb

    Seems to me that telling people a “blank vote” counts as a “no vote” is the right thing to do, isn’t it? Why is a blank vote treated any differently than a citizen that sits on their couch and doesn’t go out to vote? That is just dumb……