Update: The latest from the polls

We continue to get updates from the polls here at MPR HQ.

Here’s the latest:

A polling place at Minnesota West Community and Technical College in Canby had to be evacuated at about 11:15 a.m. because of a bomb threat at the campus, a Yellow Medicine County elections official told MPR News.

County officials were still waiting to hear whether the college had received the all-clear. College officials could not immediately be reached.

MPR’s Mark Zdechlik is up in the 8th Congressional District covering the race between Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack and DFLer Rick Nolan. He reported that turnout is strong in the area, which is home to one of the most competitive U.S. House races in the country.

MPR News spoke with auditors in Chisago, Aitkin and St. Louis counties shortly before noon. All reported strong turnout so far and each expected turnout numbers to rival those of 2008. Absentee ballots are up in both Chisago and St. Louis counties. Democrats eager to win back the 8th District seat, which they lost two years ago to Cravaack, have said they will prevail if they turn out their base.

Meanwhile, local lawyers working with the national group Election Protection say they’re having a busy day fielding reports of voting irregularities.

Mike Pignato, a partner with Dorsey & Whitney, said lawyers have been getting about 100 calls an hour from voters in both Minnesota and Missouri.

Minnesota voters have reported a variety of minor problems, such as confusion over polling places, concerns about inappropriate campaign material posted in polls and questions about what election judges are allowed to say about constitutional amendments.

“There’s far more call volume than in prior years,” Pignato said.

Malfunctioning voting equipment has also been reported in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Voters were instructed to feed ballots into a box on the machine so that the ballots could be counted later.

Hennepin County Elections Director Rachel Smith said some election judges noticed problems when opening the polls.

“That’s not uncommon. Sometimes they get jostled too much while traveling out to the sites,” she said, adding that some of the equipment was aging.

Malfunctioning machines are replaced with backups throughout the day, so voters don’t have to worry about their ballots not being counted, she said.

With MPR’s Elizabeth Dunbar.

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