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The Latest: Closing time for Fargo caucus comes and goes

March 10, 2020 - 5:10 PM

FARGO, N.D. - The Latest on North Dakota's caucuses (all times local):

7 p.m.

North Dakota's precinct caucuses are supposed to be over for Democratic voters, but they're still open in at least one location — Fargo.

Heavy turnout sparked long lines all day at the union hall where the state's biggest and most liberal city was voting. Democrats sent more staff, volunteers and equipment to the site and said it would stay open until everyone in line had a chance to vote.

The party had expected more turnout since the state shifted this year to a modified caucus format that works more like a typical election — with people able to show up, vote and leave. But the process is run by parties, and Democrats had 14 sites statewide and opened voting from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

That meant more voters at fewer places with a smaller window than in a true state-run election. A party spokesman didn't immediately respond to a question of whether any other sites had to remain open past 7 p.m.

Bernie Sanders won North Dakota four years ago under the old caucus format.


2:50 p.m.

Democrats in North Dakota say they're mobilizing additional volunteers, staff and equipment to respond to lines at some caucus locations.

Some people waited as long as an hour to vote Tuesday at the party's Fargo location. Party spokesman Alex Rohr said the line at the Grand Forks location was about 40 minutes at around 2 p.m.

North Dakota revamped its caucuses this year to a format that allows people to show up, cast a ballot and leave. The parties run the caucuses, and Democrats have 14 locations around the state that are open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The party said ahead of Tuesday's election that they expected turnout to be up sharply from the caucuses four years ago.

Rohr said many people need help looking up their voting districts, which adds some time to processing. He says everyone in line when polls close will have a chance to vote.


11:50 a.m.

Voting is underway in North Dakota's so-called “firehouse caucuses,” and a chance in procedure threw some people for a loop.

The state shifted this year away from a traditional caucus format that calls for an evening meeting and rounds of balloting. Instead, North Dakota voters can show up at several locations around the state — that's where the “firehouse” label comes from — and cast a ballot and leave. On the Democratic side, voters have 14 locations and can vote from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Some people eager to vote in the Democratic race showed up at the Fargo location hours before the 11 a.m. start.

One of them, Sandy Osborne, told KFGO radio that it was frustrating to find the site didn't open until 11.

State Democratic Party spokesman Alex Rohr says the caucus hours were “the best timeframe we had with the volunteer force we have.” He noted that Republicans' caucus sites are operating from 5 to 8 p.m.

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are vying on the Democratic ballot. Donald Trump is unopposed on the Republican side.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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