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Election season hits high gear

Cindy Muller, center, and Lori Jensen conduct an accuracy test on one of the voting machines that will be used in the Nov. 6 election.

By late this week, it's a pretty good bet city of Farmington executive assistant Cindy Muller will be ready for a nice, quiet few days off. Because truth be told, she's been pretty busy around city hall these days.

Not only does Muller have to worry about things like attending city council meetings and workshops, but she's had plenty to do on top of that the past few weeks. She's got an election to run.

Muller is the city of Farmington's election official. She's the one who, come next week, has to make sure that all of the voting machines are in the right place. She's got to make sure the election judges are trained and ready to go. She's going to be calculating absentee ballots, and she'll be the one who has to turn all of the local election results over to the county.

It's a big job, to be sure.

"I've been very busy, but everything is going very smoothly," she said Tuesday, one week before Election Day.

Muller has been preparing for the elections since almost the beginning of the year, when new polling locations were selected. Four out of the city's six precincts have new voting locations this year, and it's taken a lot of advertising to inform residents of those new sites.

After several months of sending postcards, putting the information on the city's website and Facebook page, and including maps in city publications, Muller is confident most voters know there are new locations this fall. If not, they can find the polling locations and maps on the city's website,

A primary election was held in September, along with preregistration for voters. The latter ended Oct. 16. Right now, she's working through the absentee ballot process, as absentee voting will continue through 5 p.m. next Monday, Nov. 5.

Muller has already conducted the training sessions for the election judges. All judges, old or new, need to complete two hours of training and head judges go through three hours of training. On Monday, she had a few of them on hand to help with a public accuracy test of the ballots and voting equipment.

The public accuracy tests require volunteers to run empty ballots through the computerized voting machines. Each precinct has its own memory card that has the names of each candidate on that precinct's ballot. The empty ballots register the names, but no vote counts, so that the volunteers can compare the names coming out of the voting machines with those going in on the empty ballot to make sure every candidate's name is included in the respective precinct voting machine.

The public accuracy tests were conducted Tuesday of this week. Before the week is over, Muller will still have to do shopping to pick up election supplies and have one more meeting with the election judges.

Early next week, she'll be on the road, going to each precinct so she can set up the polls. Part of that process means Monday's regular Farmington City Council meeting was cancelled because the city council chambers at city hall will be used as one of the new polling locations and Muller wants to get the room set up.

"(The city council) will have a council workshop instead," she said. "The chambers is serving as a polling location. I just want to be able to set up that precinct on Monday instead of having to wait to do it until after the council meeting."

Of course, Muller will be at next week's council workshop -- which is dedicated to the 2013 budget and begins at 7 p.m. in the meeting room near the Third Street entrance to city hall -- to take notes and be ready to write minutes. When she gets a chance, that is.

She's had so many different things pulling at her lately, Muller admits she's kind of lost track of time. Especially the amount of time she's spent working on elections.

"I couldn't even begin to count those hours," she said.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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