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PNS Daily Newscast - September 23, 2020 


U.S. COVID-19 deaths double in last 4 months as total tops 200,000; poll workers in short supply as Texas registers a record number of voters.


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Mitt Romney supports putting a Supreme Court nominee to a vote. Plus, 20 million raised so far to pay court fees and fines for returning citizens to vote.

Early and Safe Voting Being Stressed in ND

Even though North Dakota doesn't have a statewide mask mandate, local election officials, including in McKenzie County, will strongly encourage mask use for people voting in person this fall. (Adobe Stock)
Even though North Dakota doesn't have a statewide mask mandate, local election officials, including in McKenzie County, will strongly encourage mask use for people voting in person this fall. (Adobe Stock)
September 16, 2020

WATFORD CITY, N.D. -- North Dakota continues to see high levels of COVID-19 cases, and the situation has renewed concerns about voting safely this fall.

Unlike the June primary, when the state conducted an all-mail election out of caution, North Dakota will offer its usual mix of absentee and in-person voting for the November vote. No matter the option, said Janelle Moos, associate state director for AARP Nortb Dakota, they're encouraging their members to take public health guidelines into account. And if they vote absentee, she said, acting sooner would be better.

"We have a very easy, no-excuse absentee ballot process in North Dakota," she said. "So, if you choose to vote safely absentee, you can do that."

For those who still want to head to the polls, said Moos and county election officials, there will be plenty of safeguards in place. Some counties also are encouraging early in-person voting, which begins Oct. 19. AARP will host a telephone town hall on this topic starting at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 29.

McKenzie County Auditor Erica Johnsrud will be a featured speaker for the call-in event. This week, her office began mailing out absentee ballot applications. As for Election Day, Johnsrud said, they're avoiding risk by taking additional steps to protect voters.

"We've staffed additional people at our polling locations that will be responsible for doing some cleaning, in between voters," she said. "We have sneeze shields and face masks."

Polling locations often are staffed by older residents, but Johnsrud said a number of regulars have decided to skip this election because of COVID-related health concerns. Through extra recruiting, she said, they feel confident that they'll be fully staffed on Election Day. Despite the preparations, she estimated that 55% to 60% of county residents still will vote absentee.

Information for the town hall will be posted at vekeo.com/aarpnorthdakota.

Disclosure: AARP North Dakota contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mike Moen, Public News Service - ND