Early voting up in Minnesota’s August primary election

State Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-St. Louis Park, speaks during the 2012 legislative session. (MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson)

Minnesota is on track to triple the number of people who voted early in the state’s August primary election.

According to the most recent data from the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office, 29,657 people had already cast their ballots by July 26 using the state’s “no-excuse absentee” voting option, which the Legislature passed in 2013. That’s up dramatically from the last statewide primary in 2016, when 11,806 people had voted by this point. In 2014, the first year no-excuse balloting was an option,  9,062 people had voted by this date. The primary, on Aug. 14 this year, is still more than two weeks away.

Previously, Minnesotans had to have a reason they could not vote in person on Election Day to submit an absentee ballot, but the new law gave everyone the option. Minnesotans can vote in person at an early voting center or via no-excuse absentee ballot by mail at least 46 days before the election.

“More than halfway through the early absentee voting phase of the 2018 statewide primary election, I am thrilled at the growth we are seeing in voter participation in all corners of Minnesota,’ Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said. “Minnesota voters in 2018 are well on their way to maintaining our best-in-the-nation status for voter participation.”

It’s not surprising the numbers are up. Minnesota has an unusually high number of competitive primaries this cycle, including a crowded field in both parties for the open governor’s seat, a five-way DFL attorney general race, several competitive congressional primaries and a two-way DFL U.S. Senate race. In 2016, the state’s presidential preference caucus got the most attention, but there was only one statewide race for a seat on the Minnesota Supreme Court on the ballot. In 2014, there was a competitive Republican primary for governor, but few other significant races to watch.

Simon is hoping for record turnout this year in the state’s primary. Minnesota hasn’t crossed the 20-percent turnout threshold in a primary since 1998.

Here’s a breakdown of what counties the votes are coming from, via the Secretary of State:

Hennepin: 8155

Ramsey: 1853

Anoka: 810

Itasca: 1098

Saint Louis: 1123

Washington: 922

Dakota: 1474

Crow Wing: 683

Olmsted: 438

Scott: 393

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