Primary early voting seeing growth in Minnesota

The new absentee ballot numbers are out for the Minnesota primary and they’re almost double the numbers from earlier in the week.

In Ramsey County alone, voters set a record Thursday.

“We broke our all-time record for ballots cast in a state primary,” said Joe Mansky, Ramsey County Elections Manager. “The previous record was just under 7,700. We just went by that about a half an hour ago, and we still have another three and a half days of early voting going on.”

Across the state, voters have already turned in just under 87,000 absentee ballots. That’s a 195 percent increase over 2016’s primary.

In Hennepin County, as of Thursday morning, 23,000 ballots have been turned in, which is an increase of 300 percent.

In Ramsey County, their balloting is also up nearly 300 percent. Some of increases are from people getting more accustomed to early voting.

“But the other thing we have going on this year is, for once we have competitive races going on where the voters have meaningful choices for important offices,” said Mansky. “ And, you know, that’s all they want.”  

There’s also the polarization of politics in Washington and Hamline political science professor David Schultz says that, too, is driving the balloting.

“And when we look at the two years in the last, let’s say 25 or 30 years, when primary turnout was at its highest it was in 2010 and 1994, both years that there were particularly hot elections and co-incidentally years where the Republicans did particularly well,” said Schultz.  

That’s because Republicans were out of power in those elections. This time, Schultz says it the Democrats who are motivated.

“If we look at where the turnout is higher across the state, we’re looking at Olmsted County, Hennepin County and Ramsey County, those are three counties that in the last presidential election voted for Democrats,” said Schultz.

Monday is the deadline to turn in absentee ballots. They will be counted on Election Day.