Minnesotans embrace early voting on historic day

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With one week to go until the important primary election, many candidates are encouraging people to vote early.

Historically, a lot of people don’t vote in the primaries. But this year, with so many contested races, officials are already seeing a higher turnout. In fact, early ballots already turned in is up about 157 percent from the 2016 primary.

On Aug. 6, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey signed the Voting Rights Act. The act extended the right to vote for black people and minorities whose votes were suppressed in the south.

Now, on Aug. 6, 2018, Senator Tina Smith and many of her supporters celebrated the signing of the act by voting at the Hennepin County Government Center. There, they filled out absentee ballots for next Tuesday’s primary.

However, State Senator Bobby Joe Champion believes Minnesota needs to expand voting rights beyond the 1965 act.

“There are 57,000 people who cannot vote because they are on paper or parole and they cannot vote. That means they cannot make a decision as to who they want to represent them on the school board or in congress or in a presidential election,” he said. “So we have to make sure that we empower them to vote, as well.”

Minnesota civil rights legend Dr. Josie Johnson said people have to keep up their vigilance on protecting voting rights. Otherwise, she warns, we will lose it bit by bit.