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Helmut Schmidt, Published June 04 2010

Early-voter turnout slow for Cass primary

Maybe the races aren’t exciting? Maybe it’s just too nice outside?

Whatever the reason, Cass County voters haven’t been as eager in this primary election to vote by absentee ballot or at two early-polling sites open since Tuesday.

As of 4:15 p.m. Thursday, 998 voters had cast their ballots at Fargo’s Doublewood Inn, and 248 had voted at West Fargo City Hall, County Auditor Mike Montplaisir said.

Today marks the last day voters can cast early ballots at either site.

In the primary two years ago, 1,800 had voted at the Doublewood alone.

About 250 absentee ballots have arrived at the courthouse so far, compared with 1,200 two years ago, he said.

For Montplaisir, it’s a head-shaker.

This is not just the primary election for statewide offices, it’s the main election for cities and schools. Voters choose mayors, city commissioners, school and park board members, who then decide on budgets, property taxes and fees.

“It’s a very important election. It affects them (voters) as much as the general election. (Local officials) have a bigger effect than the state Legislature or the state officials,” Montplaisir said.

He said Cass County’s primary election will cost $100,000 to run.

Early voting today runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Doublewood Inn, 3333 13th Ave. S., Fargo, and West Fargo City Hall at 800 4th Ave. E.

Montplaisir said the county will add early voting in Casselton this fall for the general election.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583