Anyone who has visited the Wright County Government Center this week has likely noticed a new addition – a large red, white and blue container similar to a mailbox.
It is the county’s drop-off spot for absentee ballots from voters who wish to vote in the Aug. 11 primary, but would prefer not to vote on Primary Election Day at public polling places.
The location of the absentee voting drop box was not a coincidence. Precautions have been made to secure the structure to assure ballot sanctity and was placed in a location that has eyes on it at all times.
“It’s anchored in the concrete and it is in a location that has constant video surveillance on it,” Aronson said. “It’s only checked and emptied by election staff to maintain the security of the ballots.”
COVID-19 is creating an interesting scenario for the primary. In a typical election cycle, voter turnout is extremely low – often less than 10 percent of registered voters opt to vote. Record numbers of voters are projected to vote in the Nov. 3 general election, but the primary election is expected to see more-than-typical turnout since the absentee balloting process is being promoted throughout the state.
That would buck a trend in most areas, but in the last primary election in Wright County, there was a key race that got supporters to come out in larger numbers.
“Typically, primary elections have a very low turnout,” Aronson said. “However, in the 2018 elections, we saw higher turnout because there was a sheriff’s race in the primary. Usually the local races tend to determine voter turnout in primary elections.”
The 2020 primary will include two county commissioner races – one in District 4, currently held by Commissioner Mike Potter that has three candidates vying for two spots, and District 5, which is an open race with the decision of two-term Commissioner Charlie Borrell not to seek a third term. Four candidates are competing for two spots in the Nov. 3 general election.
Aronson said the county has purchased enough ballots for 50 percent of the registered voters – far more than will likely be needed, but a precaution taken because of the uncertainty that COVID-19 has had on getting more people to consider the absentee voting option.
That, along with many voting advocacy groups expected to flood multiple media platforms encouraging a strong voter turnout, could make the 2020 primary season given more attention than most. Aronson said the first batch of ballots has already been mailed out to those requesting them and many more are expected to come in the next five weeks prior to the election.
“We’ve seen more requests for absentee ballots at this point that we have in previous primary elections,” Aronson said. “More people are wanting to absentee vote this year, which we expected because of the situation we’re in right now.”