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Poll watchers of all political stripes are reporting few substantial problems at voting locations across the state. But some observers are concerned about overly aggressive party-affiliated challengers operating at some polling sites.

Poll watchers reporting some aggressive challengers, but few other problems

Mike Dean

Mike Dean

Poll watchers of all political stripes are reporting few substantial problems at voting locations across the state. But some observers are concerned about overly aggressive party-affiliated challengers operating at some polling sites.

“It’s not an overwhelming problem at this point,” says Mike Dean, executive director of Common Cause Minnesota, which is part of the Election Protection Coalition. “Election judges and election officials have done a really good job of addressing these issues right away.”

The Election Protection Coalition, which also includes the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and the League of Women Voters, is staffing a hotline that voters can call to report any problems.

Dan McGrath, executive director of Minnesota Majority, one of several conservative groups enlisting poll watchers, said there were about 10,000 people who registered to watch for “suspicious activities” at polling places on Election Day. Many of these poll watchers, however, just agreed to keep their eyes open when they visit their own polling places to vote, McGrath said.

McGrath said the phones have been relatively quiet so far. He has fielded about 30 calls from poll watchers, several reporting troubles with ballot scanners in Plymouth, Anoka and Ramsey and Stearns counties.

The most alarming report, McGrath said, was one voter allegedly received a ballot that was already filled out for some candidates. McGrath said that person will report their story later today and fill out an affidavit.

McGrath said he hasn’t heard of any confrontations between election officials and poll watchers, but Hennepin County Elections Manager Rachel Smith told the Associated Press that there have been “very firm exchanges” with some watchers who “didn’t seem to understand their role.”

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