Oil Patch polls have long lines, familiar faces

WILLISTON, N.D. – Voters waited in long lines to cast their ballots here Tuesday, but the strong turnout came from longtime residents rather than new workers.

Inspector Claire Folvag said the four statewide measures and a contested park board race drew a stronger turnout than she has seen for other primary elections.

“It’s been absolutely crazy,” Folvag said. “We have not had a down moment.”

Voters were greeted with signs that said if they have an out-of-state driver’s license that their home state will be notified they voted in North Dakota.

“If you vote one place, you can’t vote in another state,” Folvag said.

Folvag said that deterred some voters from casting absentee ballots, but it didn’t affect most people who came to the polls Tuesday. Election officials expect that will be a greater issue with the November presidential election.

At a rural Williston polling place, turnout was lighter than expected, said election judge Michelle Stangeland. There the voters also were longtime residents.

Watford City also saw steady voter turnout Tuesday, but election officials said they didn’t see any unfamiliar faces.

New residents of North Dakota who are living in RVs, hotels and man camps are eligible to vote if they’ve lived in the precinct for 30 days and meet the voter requirements. Voters who don’t have a current driver’s license or other form of identification can fill out a voter’s affidavit.

Inspector Brenda Lautenschlager of Watford City said no voters had filed affidavits as of early afternoon today.

Truck driver Al Toles, who has lived in Watford City for 31 years, said he voted because he owns property and has a vested interest in Measure 2 that, if passed, would eliminate property taxes. However, Toles said many of the truck drivers he works with who are new to North Dakota did not plan to vote.

The four initiated measures seemed to be attracting a steady stream of longtime Watford City residents to the polls.

Charlie Mosby said he always votes, but in this primary he was especially interested in voting no to Measure 2.

“It’s got to come from some place,” said Mosby, referring to state revenue.

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