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Like thousands of their Coon Rapids neighbors, Anthony and Sharon Miltich are taking advantage of the chance to vote before Election Day.“The circumstances we're living in today feel more extreme than any period – and I lived through the Vietnam era and saw a great deal of division there, as well,” said Anthony Miltich as he and his wife left the early voting booth inside the Coon Rapids Civic Center on Thursday afternoon.“I think that's part of it, people are motivated, and I'm grateful for that. We should be paying more attention.”From now until Election Day, any eligible voter in Coon Rapids can go to city hall, fill out their ballot, and feed it into the machine. City clerk Joan Lenzmeier says the early traffic is even higher this year than during the last presidential election.“This year we're seeing about a 10 percent increase over 2016, and 2016 numbers were very high.”Early voting is up in Coon Rapids and across the state. As of Thursday, November 1, election officials had collected 410,238 ballots in Minnesota. The office of the Minnesota Secretary of State reports that's a 177 percent increase since 2014. That was the year absentee voting became available to everyone without needing to provide an excuse to vote early.For the Miltichs, it's a civic duty they never want to miss.“It feels good to take responsibility and vote,” said Sharon Miltich.“I feel proud that Minnesota has always been strong and smart and involved, and I want to be a part of that.”By Friday afternoon, Coon Rapids election officials had collected 2,551 ballots. Early voting continues Saturday, Nov. 3 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 5 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at City Hall. On Election Day, Nov. 6, your assigned poll location is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.Find more election information here.
Jennifer Anderson reporting