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Forum staff reports, Published June 12 2012

UPDATED: Voter turnout strong at Fargo Civic Center, Olivet Lutheran Church

FARGO – Voter turnout was brisk this morning at Olivet Lutheran Church in south Fargo and at the Fargo Civic Center.

Half a dozen people were waiting in line at Olivet to vote when the polls opened at 7 a.m., Election Inspector Mark Miller said.

By 7:30 a.m., the site had 32 ballots scanned into its two machines.

At the Civic Center, “It’s a little higher than in past years,” said Bob Stein, an election official. He said a small number of people, perhaps four or five, were waiting to vote when the polling site opened at 7 a.m.

He said interest in initiated measures appeared strong.

One voter, Paul Jorgenson, said he votes in all elections, but he was particularly interested in voting for a measure on the ballot that if passed would keep the University of North Dakota nickname.

“Why not?” he said. “It’s been there for a long time.”

Molly Dirkach said she made a point of voting today to vote against Measure 3, based on what she understood it would do.

She said the wording of the measure, which proponents said would reinforce religious freedom, made it difficult to understand.

“We already have religious freedom in the Constitution,” she said, explaining one reason she opposed the measure.

Cass County Auditor Mike Montplaisir said he expects up to 30,000 people to vote in this election, including the 6,147 people who already voted at early polling sites and 1,500 absentee ballots that have been returned to the auditor’s office. That would easily top the previous high total of about 26,000 for a primary election in Cass County, he said.

Voters are being drawn to the polls by a slew of statewide and local ballot measures, as well as county, city and school board races and contested Republican primary races, most notably for U.S. House and Senate.

“At this time, with all the issues and all the candidates on the ballot, it should be a pretty good turnout,” Montplaisir said.

In fact, there are so many issues and races on the ballot, it’s split into two 17-inch-long pages, which is somewhat unusual, Montplaisir said.

The polls close at 8 p.m.