More voters turned out for Tuesday’s primary than Minnesota has seen in more than two decades, with the state posting its highest turnout in a primary since 1994.
In all, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office, 22.7 percent of eligible voters participated. Minneapolis broke a 48-year record for turnout in a midterm primary, with 93,500 voters casting ballots.
Statewide, more than 902,000 people voted — the highest number of primary voters since 1982, Secretary of State Steve Simon said (turnout was higher in 1994 relative to the overall voting population). The last time the state surpassed the 20 percent voter turnout in a primary was in 1998, also a gubernatorial primary.
“We left that one in the dust,” Simon said. “Minnesota voters really turned out.”
The high turnout caused about a handful of the state’s 4,000 precincts to run out of ballots — from the Iron Range to St. Paul. It’s an unusual problem, Simon said, but voters were still able to vote after polling places made copies of ballots. No other major problems were reported.
Part of the high turnout was attributed to the growing popularity of “no-excuse absentee” voting, which allowed voters to cast early votes in person or at home. But most people still voted in person on Tuesday. In Minneapolis, absentee ballots accounted for about 16 percent of voters — a higher amount than 2010 and 2014, when early voting started.
That was the same statewide, Simon said, with 16 percent voting early. While early voting likely brings out some new voters, he said, a number of high-profile competitive races also likely helped drive it.
“People were really fired up to vote and it was on both sides,” Simon said.
Statewide, twice as many Democrats turned out as Republicans. For instance, Sen. Amy Klobuchar easily won the Democratic primary, getting more than 556,000 votes, while Republican Jim Newberger easily won his primary — but drew more than half the number of total voters, at 201,000 in all.
In the governor’s race, 320,200 voters weighed in on the Republican race, while 582,700 voters cast ballots for Democrats.
Now, Simon’s office and election workers statewide won’t have much time to rest. Early voting for the Nov. 6 election begins on Sept. 21.
“That’s just around the corner,” Simon said. “This is like tax season for accountants. This is our busy season.”