FAIRMONT - This is the busiest day of the year for Susan Olson, Fairmont city clerk, and she was hustling Monday with last-minute preparations for the election.
At 6 a.m. this morning, 55 judges were scheduled to report to the Knights of Columbus Hall, where they will remain until the polls close. Fairmont has four wards, with two precincts in each ward. By law, the city is required to have at least four judges per precinct, and the officials cannot leave their posts.
"Just feeding them is a huge job," said Patty Monsen, who is training to take over as city clerk when Olson retires at the end of the year.
GETTING?READY — Angie DeBoer, from right, Martin County Auditor James Forshee and Darcy Jones work on processing absentee ballots Monday, shortly before the county courthouse closed for the day. The trio will put in a long day today, arriving early and remaining at the courthouse well past midnight.
"You can prepare and prepare and prepare, but it's the unknowns that come up that you can't prepare for," Olson said. "That can happen with any big event.
Olson predicts voter turnout this year will be high in Fairmont, particularly with a school referendum.
"The referendum has heightened the interest locally, but historically general elections are always busy," she said.
The day will end for Olson and Monsen when the judges have tallied the precinct votes, tabulated the write-in votes, and delivered final reports to the county auditor.
Shortly before the courthouse closed its doors Monday, Martin County Auditor James Forshee and staff were working quickly and quietly to process absentee ballots. In 2010, there were 800 absentee ballots submitted. This year, there are 1,110.
"We have 12,000 registered in Martin County - that's a large turnout of absentee votes," Forshee said.
The trio planned to leave around the same time as usual Monday, knowing today would be a long, long day for them.
The polls open at 7 a.m., Forshee said, and stay open until 8 p.m., but the courthouse will be occupied with election officials well into the wee hours on Wednesday.
"I anticipate we'll be here until 3 a.m.," he said.
One reason for the potential delay is the number of write-in candidates running this year.
For last-minute questions about the voting process, like where to go or what to bring if you are a first-time voter, go online to www.mnvotes.org