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ELECTION: Tuesday caps off a busy season for local campaigns

BEMIDJI--There wasn't much downtime for election judges in Bemidji on Tuesday, as residents continually opened the doors to their polling places. "It's been either busy or steady the whole day and the atmosphere has been really cheerful," said Sa...

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At the DFL headquarters, attendees watch results come in on Tuesday night at the Holiday Inn Express in Bemidji. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI-There wasn't much downtime for election judges in Bemidji on Tuesday, as residents continually opened the doors to their polling places.

"It's been either busy or steady the whole day and the atmosphere has been really cheerful," said Sally Murphy, the head election judge at Bemidji City Hall. "There were just a few people in line who didn't have the right ID when registering, but we were able to work everything out."

According to Murphy, the busiest time was at about 4 p.m., when many were getting off work.

"It's as if everyone was coming in at the same time," Murphy said. "I've worked three elections at different locations in Bemidji and the presidential years have been more steady with people coming through."

National issues were the driving focus for some Bemidji voters, including for resident Angie Berg.

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"We all have a choice, we all have a voice and we need to make our voices heard," Berg said.

Melissa McNeill, a first time voter, also had the national race on her mind as she put her support behind Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

"It was nerve-racking. I was originally not going to vote, but it was at the last minute, I decided it was too important," McNeill said. "I thought that one vote wouldn't matter at first. When I started filling out the ballot, though, it started feeling like it. It felt like my vote will make a difference."

GOP and DFL see energy, enthusiasm

In Bemidji, local Republicans and Democrats also gathered at their respective parties to watch the outcomes after an exhaustive effort to get out the vote.

"It seems like there's a lot of people voting this year. We just kept it up these last couple of days. There were a lot of people making phone calls and knocking on doors, supporting one candidate after another," said Beltrami County Republican Chair Rich Siegert. "Everything at our office ended up sold out. We ran out of signs, hats and T-shirts. The only Trump sign we had left was homemade."

"The change from the last two election cycles is phenomenal," said the Republican Vice Chair Bill Pagel. "The number of people coming to our office, it used to just be one or two people walking in for a sign. This time around it was consistent."

For the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, the final workload was just as heavy.

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"We had volunteers this past week going in and out of the office, door knocking and making calls," said Beltrami County DFL Vice Chair Pam McCorry. "It's been pretty exciting, we've had just people walking in off the street, we didn't even have to go out and recruit."

In the end, their efforts appeared successful, with turnout hitting 7,012 in Bemidji and 24,213 in Beltrami County, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State website.

Related Topics: ELECTION 2016
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