When your house is a polling place

Voting booths in the LaBore's home.
Two portable voting booths sit in the entryway of Carla and Lee LaBore's home Monday. The LaBores have opened their home to voters for more than 20 years, saving neighbors a nearly 45-minute drive into town.
Evan Frost | MPR News

On Election Day, Carla LaBore will get up early, put on a pot of coffee, unlock her front door and wait for 100 of her neighbors to stop by and vote.

There are two voting booths set up in her front hall, and a copy of the Voter's Bill of Rights taped to her wood paneling. One of her neighbors has promised to bring donuts.

It's been this way for 20 years.

Carla LaBore outside of her home.
Carla LaBore stands outside of her Shorewood, Minn., home Monday -- a day before it turns into an official polling place.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Carla lives in Shorewood, Minn., on Lake Minnetonka, but her neighborhood isn't connected to the rest of her precinct by land, which makes voting difficult. She and her neighbors would have to drive 30 minutes or more around the lake to reach the mainland voting location. Instead, people come to her house.

Her front hall is one of at least three locations around the state where private homes turn into polling places for the day.

When her husband, Lee, bought the land on Enchanted Point more than two decades ago, he and his neighbors cast their ballots in a garage. Considering typical Minnesota weather in November, that made for some pretty chilly Election Days.

Enchanted Lane and Enchanted Point.
The LaBore's home sits on Enchanted Point, a right turn off of Enchanted Lane, in Shorewood.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Lee LaBore promised that when he finished building his lakeshore home, he'd open it up as a polling station — this time with heat. And that's exactly what he did.

Carla now serves as chief election judge, "since it's at my house," she laughs.

"We have two polling booths over there, but if people don't want to wait, we let them go in the kitchen or dining room. Just take your time, we're in no hurry," she said.

"We get caught up on how everybody's families are doing and what the latest news is in the neighborhood."

The kitchen and voting booths.
The LaBores' kitchen sits around the corner from the equipment that turns their house into a polling place on Election Day.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Because their house sits right on the water, some of her neighbors even canoe over.

"They pull up on the beach and come in the back door to cast their votes," she said. "One year it was a little chilly, so they sat and had a cup of coffee before they went back out."

Correction (Nov. 7, 2016): An earlier version of this story misspelled Carla and Lee LaBore's last name. The town of Shorewood was also misspelled in a photo caption. The story has been updated.

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