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Forum staff reports, Published November 06 2012

Clay asks election judges not to tell voters leaving measure blank equals "no" vote

MOORHEAD – Clay County election officials were told today to quit telling voters that leaving the marriage amendment and voter ID measures blank would be counted as “no” votes.

The Clay County auditor’s office received complaints from voters who felt the statements could be an attempt to sway voters, said Clay County Auditor Lori Johnson.

“(Election officials) can‘t try and change how someone votes,” Johnson said. “They try to give instruction on proper voting.”

She said the officials were right, though. A blank ballot question is counted as a “no” vote.

David Fischer said he contacted the auditor’s office after an election official at the Hjemkomst Center handed him a ballot and informed him that leaving a ballot question blank equals a “no” vote.

“It certainly did upset me thinking that it could sway the vote one way or another,” Fischer said.

Mara Morken experienced a similar interaction with election officials at Grace Methodist Church in Moorhead.

Johnson said she believes officials were not trying to sway votes, but rather offer proper instruction.

“I believe it was just a misunderstanding,” she said.

Johnson said the instruction was not illegal.