Minnesota primary early voting turnout sees huge increase

The primary election in Minnesota is just three weeks away and so far, the turnout for early voting is sky high compared to the 2016 primary.

“We have seen an incredible increase in the number of people coming in to vote absentee,” said Hennepin County Election Manager Ginny Gelms.

Minnesota’s version of early voting has been underway for nearly a month and compared to this same date in the 2016 primary, the number of absentee ballots turned in has jumped.

Statewide, voters have entered more 29,000 ballots. That’s up 151 percent from two years ago. In Ramsey County, the 1,800 ballots turned in is up more than 200 percent. In Hennepin County, there’s a 192 percent increase over 2016.

Gelms says it will likely set a new record.

“As of today, we have accepted over 8,000 ballots,” said Gelms. “And that is the same number that we had for the entire primary election two years ago. So we have already hit that number and we have three weeks left to go.”  

It’s too early to tell if the growth in early balloting is from Minnesotans accepting the concept of early voting or simply more activism in this particular election.

“It’s always the case that the interest we see in an election is driven by what’s on the ballot,” said Gelms. “There are a lot of really hot races on the ballot in Hennepin County this year and the Democratic Party especially has some races that are receiving quite a lot of interest.”

That’s especially true in the Fifth Congressional District where Keith Ellison at the last second decided to run for state attorney general. It created a wide open DFL primary race where Ilhan Omar, Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Patricia Torres Rey are among five candidates vying to get on the November ballot.

With just three weeks to go until the primary, there’s still time to vote.

“Right up until the day before Primary Day which is August 14, you can request an absentee ballot through the mail, you can come to the Hennepin County Government Center to do it in person, you can go to your City Hall to do it in person there,” said Gelms. “So, there are lot so ways to vote prior to Election Day if that’s what you’d like to do.”  

While most people prefer go to the county election center or city hall to get a ballot, you can actually go online, too. You can order a ballot by going to MNVotes.org. It gets mailed to your house and you fill it out and mail it back in.