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DECISION 2011: Voters turnout for special election on school building, commissioner

A woman and her children arrived at the polls this morning to cast her ballot in today's special election. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

Voter turnout has been steady this morning throughout the Bemidji area.

Area election judges reported early Tuesday that voters have consistently been going to their polling places.

Voters in the region today will decide the outcome of two elections. The Bemidji School District is asking voters to approve a $13 million bond package to build a new elementary school, and, in Beltrami County, District 3 residents will select either Richard Anderson or Scott Winger to be their new commissioner.

Voting times varied throughout the region, but at Bemidji Town Hall, the site for Bemidji Township voters, there already were five people waiting to vote when the polls opened at 7 a.m.

Election judge Harriet Rowles and Lannee Paulson, the town clerk, said that as of 8:55 a.m. 95 township residents had cast their votes. Three were newly registered.

"We've had a good showing," Rowles said.

Bemidji Township residents were one of the locations that were voting on both election matters, which probably brought in voters passionate on both issues, the judges agreed.

Further west in Eckles Township, the Eckles Community Center was serving as a joint polling place for Eckles Township residents and Liberty Township residents.

Eckles residents could vote on the school referendum only; Liberty residents could vote for both the referendum and their county commissioner.

"It's actually been a good morning," said Eckles Township election judge Mary Lou Milender.

She and her fellow election judges had expected turnout to be slower than it had been, but it had been steady throughout the first hour of voting, she said.

"It's kind of surprising," Milender said.

Liberty Township judges reported 11 voters in the first hour of voting.

Within city limits, election judges at J.W. Smith - the site for voters in city wards one and three - turnout has been picking up pace as the day progresses, said Election Judge Vera Weis.

As of about 8:30 a.m., there had been 25 ballots cast. And, within another three minutes, another three were cast.

Since the polling place is at the school, Weis said, voters tend to come in a little later to ensure kids are out of the hallways and settled in their classrooms.

Weis said she thought there would be a lot of voters, but, so far, she said, that has not been the case.

Down the road at Central School - the site for wards two and four - election judges said turnout had been steady throughout the morning.

Election judge Arleen Dosdall said there was no spike or heavy time for voting as of yet, but voters steadily have been coming in to vote.

Before 9 a.m. there had been 38 votes cast.