Columbus opts for drive-through voting while other area cities prepare for in-person voting safety

The Minnesota primary will be held on Aug. 11, and the Forest Lake area has several party seats being contested. Local city officials are preparing for voters’ safety amidst the pandemic.

Following Gov. Tim Walz’s announcement that masks must be worn indoors, voters will be required to wear masks and can be denied voting inside the polling location if they choose not to wear a mask. Those who cannot wear a mask for health or disability reasons will be asked to participate in curbside voting. Masks will be available to voters who may not have one. Though masks are legally required to cast a ballot inside the polling place, voting officials are still required to allow those otherwise eligible to vote to cast a ballot, but that person’s name and address will be recorded and reported to authorities.

Columbus is moving forward with a drive-through voting option at the city’s public works building instead of an indoor voting option. Voters are asked to drive up to the polling location. 

Forest Lake, Wyoming, Scandia, ad Linwood have all planned for frequent cleaning and social distancing at the normal polling locations.

Voters in Scandia and Linwood are encouraged to vote early and bring their own pens, though the city will provide pens that will be sanitized after each use.

“This has been a challenging election preparation due to having to change the layout of each precinct, factoring in other security issues and information coming from the state and county with constant changes and updates. My primary consideration is for the safety of the election judges and the voters,” Linwood Township town clerk Palm Olson said.

Absentee ballots are still available.

On the ballot

Both area districts for the U.S. House of Representatives have primaries. In District 6’s Republican race, incumbent Tom Emmer, who won the seat in the 2014 election following terms in the Minnesota House of Representatives, will face off against Patrick Munro, who has challenged Emmer in the last two elections.

In District 8’s U.S. House of Representatives Republican race, incumbent Pete Stauber is challenged by Harry Welty. Stauber was elected to the district in the 2018 election after serving six years on the St. Louis County Commission. Welty served on the Duluth School Board from 2013-2017 and challenged Stauber in the Republican primary for the district in 2018.

State Rep. Anne Neu will be challenged in the Republican primary for District 32B by Joelle Walmsley. Neu was elected in 2017 during a special election. The winner will face Democratic challenger. 

In District 39A, two Democratic candidates will be vying to challenge Republican incumbent Bob Dettmer in the general election: Ann Mozey, who lost to Dettmer in the general election in 2018, and newcomer Chuck Fitzer. 

Another battle for a spot as the democratic candidate for the general election will occur in District 39, where Brian Hile and Josiah Hill, both newcomers, will battle to take on incumbent Republican Karin Housely in the general election. 

Lastly, in Anoka County, a similar matchup to last fall’s primary for the District 6 Commissioner seat is set to take place with incumbent Jeff Reinert, who won the special election in February of this year, against previous challengers Cindy Hansen and Kevin Ryan. The top two vote-getters will battle it out for the seat in the general election.

The Forest Lake Times published a voter’s guide questionnaire, which can be found in the July 30 issue or online at  forestlaketimes.com under our Election 2020 header.

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