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Unforseen ‘hiccups’ lead to delayed election reporting in Jackson County

JACKSON — Polls closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday across Minnesota, but voters in Jackson County had to wait a little longer than most in the state to learn who would be taking office in January.

According to Jackson County Auditor/Treasurer Kevin Nordquist, election results were uploaded to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office around 1:20 a.m. Wednesday — which was almost two and a half hours later than in Nobles County.

Nordquist said the delay was caused by what he called “hiccups.” The two primary causes were more mail-in-only balloting precincts and technical difficulties in uploading results, he said.

Nordquist said the Jackson County Courthouse was busy throughout Tuesday with voters from precincts with mail-in balloting wishing to instead cast a vote in person. That includes residents from 10 precincts (which includes Heron Lake and Alpha cities) that just recently switched to the mail-in option.

“Quite a few people misplaced or discarded (their mail-in ballot), so they ended up coming to our office to vote because we’re their polling place on election day,” Nordquist said. “We didn’t anticipate such a heavy rush of people coming into the office to vote on Election Day.”

Administering and calculating those ballots delayed the office in accomplishing other things during the day, Nordquist added.

In Jackson County, precincts in Jackson, Lakefield and Heron Lake were tallied on site, while 12 townships with polling places returned their ballots to the auditor/treasurer's office after 8 p.m. to be counted.

“That takes additional time as we’re running their ballots through here,” Nordquist said.

The delay of reporting could also be attributed to how the office initially uploaded the results.

“We uploaded the results once and it was put in an incorrect order, so we had to zero a lot of our results and re-upload them again,” he said about the very specific way results must be reported and uploaded to the secretary of state.

The Minnesota Secretary of State Office did not respond to a request to compare when Jackson County’s results were received compared to other counties across the state.

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