Blaine still needs election judges

Blaine City Clerk Jane Cross still needs more than 30 judges for the Aug. 14 primary and at least 50 for the Nov. 6 general election.

“Recently, I’ve been hiring judges from Ham Lake,” she said. “They have more than enough judges.”

Cross said the precinct caucus process eliminated people who were interested in becoming future judges.

“The majority of them were Republicans. That’s based on the list of names that came down from the caucus,” Cross said.

According to Cross, independents and non-affiliates are included in the city’s election judge lists. A single party can’t have a majority of precinct election judges.

“In the past, Blaine has been heavily Democratic, especially in the southern part,” Cross said. “Those demographics are changing. It’s not that I don’t have enough judges from either party, I just don’t have enough judges.”

Cross said in a pinch, she should be able to make do with the current number of Blaine primary judges by shuffling people around.

“But when it’s time for the general election, I’m going to need more people,” she said.

Cross used Ward 1, Precinct 5, at the National Sports Center (NSC) as a example to illustrate this year’s potential problem.

“There are 1,845 registered voters there, I currently have nine judges but need 14 to 16 judges at the NSC,” she said,

According to Cross, it’s common for an election judge to stay at a particular location after working there in past elections. Redistricting has created changes.

“I’m telling them they may not be working where they were previously,” she said. “It’s more likely they will end up in their home precinct. That’s when I start balancing the parties and moving them around.”

According to Cross, that practice produces a lower number of absentee voters.

“This year, we have a new software system in Anoka County that allows us to e-mail information to a city’s election judges,” she said. “If they put an e-mail address on their application, I will send them e-mail information about future training as well as their election assignment. They will really need to check it.”

Cross said the city will save “tons of money” on postage and mailing costs as well as time by using e-mail to send out material that’s included in judge packets.

Anoka County will train election judges at Spring Lake Park, Lino Lakes and Ham Lake, Cross said.

To qualify as an election judge, a person must be a resident of Minnesota and be at least 18 years of age, be eligible to vote and be able to read, write and speak fluent English.

Additionally, election judges cannot be a candidate in an election or closely related to a candidate and cannot be closely related to another judge in the same precinct, Cross said.

College students can serve as election judges as long as they are a resident of Minnesota, she said.

High school students are qualified to work as election judge trainees if they are 16 years of age or older and have permission from parents and from their school.

Trainees, election judges and head judges are paid an hourly wage by the city, Cross said.

Election judges are eventually appointed by the city council at least 25 days prior to the given election date.

Applications can be download from www.ci.blaine.mn.us. Click “Elections” under Quick Links on the home page. Residents who have further questions about becoming a 2012 election judge should call Blaine City Hall at 763-785-6122 or 763-785-6124 any time between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Tim Hennagir is at tim.hennagir@ecm-inc.com

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