County Manager Column from Oct. 27, 2020

October 2020 Dispatch: Elections, COVID-19, vacation capping and more

In this week’s video message, I cover the upcoming election, the growing increase in COVID-19 cases and what that means for employees – as well as some good news about vacation capping from Human Resources.

In 1849 on this date, Ramsey County was established on land that was for a long time before that a part of the Dakota territory. This is a moment where we realize that (first) as a Dakota place and (then) as a county, we are living in a space where many have walked before us and worked to build the community in which we work and many of us also call home. Now a week out from Election Day, we’re forging ahead with many new firsts and records – setting the tone to meet our current day challenges and establishing a strong and inclusive foundation for the many years ahead.

Here are some of the fun facts and figures from our Elections group that I summarize in the video. There are a lot of them though so I’m sharing them again here:

  • We have the most registered voters ever – nearly 335,000! This is up from about 305,000 in 2016 and there are likely a few thousand more registrations yet to come right up through when polls close at 8 p.m. on Nov. 3.
  • We have issued the most absentee ballots to voters ever – nearly 200,000 – and we have already accepted more than 140,000 of those ballots – 71.1% of all of those issued. Further, more than 106,000 of these ballots have already been processed at our new Count Center so - while any results won't be known until after the polls close - we’re in a great position to have all vote totals for all ballots received available on election night.  
  • 84% of the absentee ballots were sent to voters through the mail and of those about 25% have been returned to us in person at Service Centers, libraries and other community locations we have added for ballot return this year – another first. Later this week, we’ll also offer a first-of-its-kind ballot drop-off event at Allianz Field thanks to a great new partnership with Major League Soccer and MN United FC.
  • 16% of voters completed and cast absentee ballots in person at the three sites where we’ve been providing this option since Sept. 18: the Elections Office, Ramsey County Library – Roseville and New Brighton Community Center. 

We saw the busiest day of early in-person absentee voting ever last Friday with 1,500 people casting their absentee ballots.

…but we expect that record to be short-lived because we opened four more in-person voting sites today – the first day that voters can cast their ballots right into a ballot counter.  

We’ve had the most Elections Judges serving ever – more than 2,500 have been helping out and are ready to go on Election Day, plus we have 700 others ready to go should we need them. This number is unheard of and a testament to the civic spirit and commitment throughout our communities.

And last but not least, remember that Minnesota State Law permits employees to be absent from work on Election Day (Nov. 3) for the time necessary to vote without deduction from salary. All employees are encouraged to vote in the most convenient way either by mail, in-person early voting or on Election Day.

I hope the information in this video update has been valuable for you and appreciate you taking time out to watch. As always, I also appreciate your suggestions about topics of interest to you and thank you for all your hard work on behalf of Ramsey County!