Ritchie reflects on 2014 vote, past eight years

Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie talks to reporters following the State Canvassing Board’s meeting to certify the 2014 election results. Tim Pugmire/MPR News

Minnesota’s 2014 general election results are now official.

The five-member State Canvassing Board met today to certify results that show 1,992,566 Minnesotans cast a ballot. That put Minnesota’s turnout for the midterm election at 50.51 percent of eligible voters. The turnout in 2010, the previous midterm, was 55.83 percent.

Outgoing DFL Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said 2014 was the smoothest election during his eight years in office, but the turnout was disappointing.

Ritchie said Minnesota followed a national trend.

“We’ve known in the past that if at the top of the ticket it looks like a blowout or if at the top of the ticket it doesn’t look like a really competitive race, there are plenty of people who will say ‘not much I can do in that top ticket race. I’m not going to vote,’” Ritchie said.

There were 198,143 absentee ballots cast under Minnesota’s new “no excuse” absentee voting law. That was a 55 percent increase from 2010.

This was Ritchie’s last time chairing the Canvassing Board. He did not run for re-election to a third term. DFLer Steve Simon will be sworn in as Ritchie’s successor as secretary of state in January.

During his two terms, Ritchie administered two hotly contested statewide recounts: the 2008 U.S. Senate race and the 2010 race for governor. He also was a political lightning rod.

Republicans frequently accused him of being overly partisan. But Ritchie told reporters that he always tried to remain positive in the face of criticism.

“I’ve spent eight years learning how to just take a deep breath, and when somebody tries to provoke me to be nasty about somebody else, I think that’s not Minnesotan,” Ritchie said. “But more importantly, it’s not me.”

Ritchie will soon turn his full attention to Minnesota’s effort to host a World’s Fair in 2023. He chairs the committee working to prepare the formal bid for submission next year.