Voters streamed into polling places in Fridley Tuesday in numbers great enough that one election judge likened the crowd to what she sees in a national election year.
Polls remain open until 8 p.m. Tuesday. For information about where to vote and what's on the ballot in different parts of Fridley, click here.
"It's been crazy—in a good way," said Kathy Svandy, head election judge at Fridley High School, the one polling place for residents of the Fridley School District. "It's just as busy as in a presidential election."
The polls opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday. By 1:30 p.m., more than 800 people had voted at Fridley High School, Svandy said.
"That's a lot," she said, adding that the polling place had long since passed the 300 or so voters they had expected, even before the end-of-day rush.
"It's yet young," said Svandy, as a dozen voters negotiated the registration desks and voting booths set up just inside the school's auditorium entrance.
She said the levy questions on the ballot had to be what was drawing people to the polls, since the school board election was uncontested, with three candidates running for three seats.
Ted Kranz, a poll worker at the high school, said he had already registered more than 30 voters new to the district.
"A blockbuster turnout," Kranz said. "Twice as many as we were expecting all day."
Kranz even had to turn away some folks. Some parents who live outside the district boundaries but have children at the high school mistakenly thought it was their polling place, Kranz said.
Outside the high school, Marty Leuders of Fridley said he had helped wayward voters from Fridley find their way to the polling place. He said he saw them at Redeemer Church, where they were used to voting and where he worked 10 years as a custodian.
"I talked to some of the people and told them where to go," Leuders said.
Leuders said he had voted in favor of the school-levy questions. "We have to keep up the schools," Leuders said, "especially the maintenance, and for the children."
Turning out for an off-year election wasn't unusual for Leuders. "I vote every time," he said.
Spring Lake Park Turnout 'Steady'
Leeora Windingland of Fridley was one of what poll workers called a "steady" stream of more than 600 people who by 1 p.m. Tuesday had voted at Woodcrest Elementary School, one of two polling places for the Spring Lake Park school district election.
Windingland said she thought it was important to come out to vote because it was "the responsible thing to do." Voting is "in the interest of the school district," she said, as she pushed daughters Brittany, 4-1/2, and Kirstin, 1-1/2, in a stroller.
She declined to say how she had voted on the levy questions and school-board races on the ballot. "Several people knocked at our door" about the school board races, she said, adding that she'd also received phone calls and a pamphlet about the levies.
"Real steady" was how Head Judge Darin Sumstead characterized the turnout by midday.
"It's been steady all day," said election worker Steve Schiefert, who estimated the turnout so far at about 10 percent.
Lou Sinko, a school-district employee who was directing voters as a volunteer in the hallway, said he had observed a "constant, steady flow."
Springbrook Nature Center Polling Place Scenic, Quiet
The scene was decidedly quieter at Springbrook Nature Center in northwest Fridley, where residents of that corner of the city were voting in the Anoka-Hennepin school district's election.
At 2 p.m., the 99th voter of the day arrived to cast a ballot that features three levy questions and a race for school board in which the incumbent, Scott Wenzel, is running unopposed.
Head judges Leslie Plummer and Betty Bonine said they had seen more older people thus far, including some who brought grandchildren along.
Between 8 and 9 a.m., Plummer said, 20 people voted. A noon hour rush brought 17 more, she said, and they were expecting another evening rush from the after-work crowd.
While lower in numbers than Fridley's other polling places, the Springbrook turnout was in rough proportion to the turnout at the other sites: about 900 voters are registered to vote there.
The six election workers were possibly more excited about another midday event at what be one of the most scenic polling places in the Twin Cities: The nature center's barred owl had just gobbled a mouse, Bonine said.