Herald Journal - Enterprise Dispatch - Delano Herald Journal
Will their ballots count?

Feb. 16, 2009

New Germany voters wait during the recount process

By Lynda Jensen

CARVER COUNTY, MN – When Kelton Adams of New Germany, 75, had to have knee replacement surgery around election time, he made arrangements to vote by absentee ballot, as did his wife Marcella.

It didn’t occur to them that neither of their votes would be counted because of their daughter’s mailing address. Their daughter, Joy Adams, was the witness listed on both of their ballots.

“She moved from Carver to McLeod County,” Kelton said, and in doing so, didn’t register her new address at that point in time. “It wasn’t election time, yet.”

Joy cast her ballot in person the day of the election, and was counted with no troubles.

Nevertheless, the Adams found themselves testifying last week in the Supreme Court chambers, asking three judges to count their ballots.

What Kelton doesn’t understand is why such a simple matter as a change of address from one place to another in the same state should present such a problem.

He also doesn’t understand why no one notified them of the miscount – the Adamses discovered the error when their son called them, who in turn, was tipped off by a friend, who saw their names on a list of un-counted ballots, online.

“They should notify you within three days,” Kelton said. “This is America. The United States of America.” To have such simple administrative problems should be un-heard of, he thought.

Their neighbors, Rodger and Marge Kirchoff of New Germany, found themselves in the same boat, too, when they went on vacation in Wisconsin, and decided to vote absentee.

Their ballots weren’t counted because a post office box was used by their witness (a sister) instead of a street address. In this case, the address on the ballot envelope didn’t match the voter registration (street address) of the witness, Marge said.

“She gets her mail at the PO box,” Marge explained.

Apparently, it is against the rules to use a PO box with absentee ballots; something that Marge doesn’t remember being advised about during the procedure, even though they read the instructions carefully, since it was their first time voting by absentee ballot.

“It was stamped on the bottom of the ballot that they couldn’t accept a post office box,” she said.

The Kirchoffs also testified in the courtoom chambers, along with the Adams.

Marge has been a registered voter ever since she could vote, she added.

Kelton has also voted for decades and is amazed that the process happened as it did.

But he knows what he’ll do next time.

“I’ll tell you what,” Kelton said. “I’ll be there in person next time. I don’t care if I have to crawl.”

It remains to be seen if their votes will be included; although Kelton is sure that theirs will surely be counted.

There are approximately 4,700 rejected absentee ballots remaining. As of Wednesday, the three judges presiding over the case will allow another 36 voters to submit more information to get their votes counted.

The case is expected to continue for another two months or so.


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