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Auditor will recommend keeping Cass County polls open till 8 p.m.

Cass County Auditor Mike Montplaisir. Special to The Forum

FARGO — Despite conversations about possibly closing polls an hour early in Cass County, the auditor said he's in favor of keeping polling hours the same.

County Auditor Mike Montplaisir told The Forum on Wednesday, April 11, that he'll recommend county commissioners set polling hours at 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. this election cycle. Commissioners will make the final decision on the matter when they meet Monday, April 16.

Montplaisir recently raised the question of changing hours to align with other North Dakota counties that close polls at 7 p.m.

He said he wants to be consistent across the state. Voters in nearby Traill or Richland counties, for example, could hear conflicting reports of polls closing at 8 p.m. when polls in their counties actually close at 7 p.m.

Montplaisir emailed party chairs of Cass County's 13 legislative districts to get their thoughts, but not all were in agreement. Montplaisir said Republicans were in favor of closing at 7 p.m., but Democrats wanted to stay open till 8 p.m. because some voters work odd or late hours.

In 2016, Montplaisir said about 1,500 of the roughly 80,000 people who voted did so after 7 p.m.

"It's not that those people wouldn't have an opportunity to vote," he said, adding there's a high turnout in weeklong early voting, and residents can also vote absentee.

"We've always been pushing for better access and were looking at that hour. Is it necessary?" he said.

He said the county will track when people vote to consider making a change in 2020.

Commissioners are also expected to approve a few polling location changes:

• Precinct 27-02 is moving from Living Waters Lutheran Church to Edgewood Vista and Village, 4420 37th Ave. S.

• Precinct 41-01 will be at the Dr. James Carlson Public Library, 2801 32nd Ave. S., for the June 12 primary. It will move to Bethel Church, 2702 30th Ave. S., for November's general election.

• Precinct 46-02 is moving from Atonement Lutheran Church to First United Methodist's south campus, 3910 25th St. S.

• Two polling locations will have a new name this year: Baymont Inn is now the Ramada Inn, 3333 13th Ave. S. in Fargo, and Cambria Suites is now the DoubleTree Inn, 825 E. Beaton Drive in West Fargo.

Kim Hyatt

Kim Hyatt is a reporter with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and a 2014 graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth. She started her newspaper career at the Owatonna People’s Press covering arts and education. In 2016, she received Minnesota Newspaper Association's Dave Pyle New Journalist Award and later that year she joined The Forum newsroom.

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