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Large turnout for mail-in ballots reported in Lyon Co.

MARSHALL — Primary elections for U.S. Senate, U.S. Congressional District 7, and Minnesota Senate District 22 are today. And while fewer Lyon County precincts than ever before have in-person polling places, voter participation has been up.

“We already have over double what we had in 2016,” said Lyon County Auditor/Treasurer E.J. Moberg.

The 2016 August primaries saw a total of 802 Lyon County voters cast ballots. Over the past several years, primary elections without local races on the ballot have tended to draw less participation. But by Monday afternoon, Moberg said the county had accepted 1,678 absentee and mail-in ballots for this year’s primary.

It’s just one of the ways today’s primary is unusual. Partly as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, more Lyon County precincts have switched to using mail-in ballots. The cities of Balaton and Lynd, and the townships of Clifton, Island Lake, Lynd, Lyons, Monroe, Nordland, Rock Lake and Westerheim joined the list of mail ballot precincts this year. That means out of the county’s 33 voting precincts, only seven have in-person polling places open today: one each in the cities of Cottonwood, Minneota, Russell and Tracy, and three in the city of Marshall.

Polls are open across the county from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. today. Polling places are the Cottonwood Community Center for the city of Cottonwood; the Minneota Community Center for the city of Minneota; the Russell Community Center for the city of Russell; the Veterans Memorial Center for the city of Tracy; the Red Baron Arena for Marshall Ward 1; Marshall Middle School for Marshall Ward 2; and the Marshall Area YMCA for Marshall Ward 3. The polling place for mail ballot precincts is the Auditor/Treasurer’s Office on the second floor of the Lyon County Government Center.

Marshall City Clerk Kyle Box said voting will look a little different in Marshall today, to comply with social distancing guidelines.

“We want to try and keep it as normal as possible,” while still protecting people’s safety, Box said. There will be sneeze guard-style partitions between election workers and voters, as well as hand-washing stations and hand sanitizer available.

“We’ll have some spacing throughout the polling place,” Box said. Signage on the floors and individual voting booths will help voters keep a safe distance apart.

Another unusual factor in today’s primary will affect how quickly the complete results of the election are available. In the primary, absentee ballots will be accepted if they are postmarked on or before election day, and if the county receives them by Thursday. While Lyon County’s unofficial results from election day will be posted on the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website, the vote totals could still change by the time the votes are canvassed on Friday, Moberg said.

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