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Guest Editorial - Election day efficiency wins our vote

In Chicago on Election Day, "hundreds of frustrated voters were shuffled around polling places, asked for identification, yelled at by aggravated election judges and left holding the wrong ballots," the Chicago Tribune reports.

In North Carolina, Kansas, Ohio and elsewhere, "some electronic voting machines reportedly recorded votes for Obama even when voters had selected Romney" and vice-versa, according to Yahoo! News.

And in Florida, the ballots likely still are being counted; Mitt Romney didn't concede the state until Thursday afternoon. That follows reports of some Florida voters standing in line for six hours on Election Day, then taking 40 minutes to wade through ballots that were up to 10 pages long.

"Virginia and Florida held polls open until midnight for voters in line by the original scheduled closing times, but by then President Barack Obama had been declared the winner of another term," McClatchy Newspapers reports.

Now, the good news:

Few such problems were reported in North Dakota and Minnesota.

The states faced the same issues as elsewhere. Turnout in Minnesota was up, for example. And western North Dakota contended with a raft of new voters, some of whom have no fixed address because they're living in their cars.

Yet while Election Day wasn't trouble-free -- voters in Willston, N.D., and elsewhere waited up to an hour to vote; in Minneapolis, ballot problems forced a manual recount in three precincts on Wednesday -- it proceeded in general with efficiency and dispatch.

This St. Cloud (Minn.) Times report was typical: "Polling places around St. Cloud are seeing heavy turnout on Election Day, but few are reporting problems or long delays," according to the newspaper.

That report could have been a lot different, as voters in Florida and elsewhere know. And the fact that a procedure as complicated and important as an election came off as smoothly as it did is a credit to North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger, his Minnesota counterpart Mark Ritchie and their offices, as well as to the county election workers and officials in both states.

The secretary of state's website in North Dakota deserves special praise. It was an excellent resource on Election Night: Colorful and attractive, very easy to use and updated every five or 10 minutes to give users the latest results.

Again, the usefulness of that tool is no accident. It's the result of somebody making the website a priority and then taking the right steps to prepare it. And it's just another indicator of well-run system, one whose results on Wednesday were accepted without question by winning and losing candidates alike.

"Florida is once again a laughingstock," writes Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida.

"Stolid and snarky pundits alike are having a field day. Google 'Florida' and 'election' for an avalanche of stories. ...

"We should send a thank you card and a key lime pie to Ohio, to thank them for deciding the election and sparing us the amplified embarrassment of our collective blunders being under a larger national microscope."

Similar reports weren't written in North Dakota or Minnesota. And for that, residents of both states owe election officials a vote of thanks. -- Tom Dennis for the Herald