Now, the voters get their say

County election official expects strong turnout Tuesday

After months of political ads and weeks of debates it’s the voters’ turn Tuesday.

Washington County election officials expect a strong turnout for Tuesday’s general election. Voters are asked to decide a ballot filled with federal, state and local political races along with two proposed constitutional amendments — one defining marriage as between one man and one woman, the other requiring voters to show identification when voting.

Besides the presidential race between President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney and the two amendments, other races on the ballots in the county include one of the state’s U.S. Senate seats, three of the state’s eight Congressional districts, redrawn legislative seats, three County Board districts, several city councils and watershed district boards.

Absentee voting continues today, Saturday and Monday and is expected to remain steady, according to Jennifer Wagenius, director of the county’ Property Records and Taxpayer Services department.

“We’re up to about 11,000 absentee ballots. We’re probably adding 1,000 a day, but we’ll be a little lower than four years ago,” she said.

About 16,000 absentee ballots were cast in 2008, Wagenius said.

But based on the number of 2012 absentee ballots cast so far, Wagenius expects high voter turnout Tuesday. The county had 81 percent turnout in 2008, she noted.

“Based on what we’re seeing with absentee voting, we’re looking at 75 to 80 percent (turnout),” she said. “It’s lower than four years ago, but it’s still a good turnout.”

Voters wanting to cast absentee ballots can do so today until 5 p.m.; 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday at the Government Center in Stillwater and county service centers in Woodbury, Cottage Grove and Forest Lake. Stillwater residents can cast absentee ballots at City Hall.

“Any Washington County resident can vote absentee at any county service center,” Wagenius said.

Voters can cast absentee ballots if they will be out of town or absent from their precinct on election day; are a serving election judge; have a religious holiday observance; illness or disability or are subject to an emergency declared by the governor.

For voters going to the polls Tuesday, Wagenius urges them to double-check where they vote. She said the best way to do that is visiting the Secretary of State’s website.

“There’s a great polling place finder link on the Secretary of State’s website,” she said. There, voters can type in their address or zip code to find out where they can vote, since redistricting earlier this year might have changed voters’ precincts and polling locations.

“There were quite a few changes this year,” she said. “The most important thing is to double-check the polling place finder and double-check your polling place.”

Polls in the county are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wagenius reminds voters that anyone in line to cast their ballot when polls close will still get to vote.

“If you’re in line at 8 p.m., you get to vote,” she said.

 Visit to find more information about absentee voting and voting in Tuesday’s general election.