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Minnesota outperforms US voter turnout again; No. 1 state still to be decided

While results still need to be certified, Minnesota was just one of three states to top the 60% mark, along with Wisconsin and Maine, according to the U.S. Election Project.

File: Voting, Election
"I voted" stickers scattered on a table near a dish with pens that needed to be sanitized Nov. 3, 2020, at the Miners Memorial Building in Virginia, Minn.
Tyler Schank / File / Duluth News Tribune
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ST. PAUL — Preliminary counts show Minnesota once again had strong voter turnout this year, with more than 60% of eligible voters casting a ballot in the 2022 midterm election. It's not a record, but it's still comfortably above national turnout, as has become the norm in Minnesota.

While results still need to be certified, Minnesota was just one of three states to top the 60% mark , along with Wisconsin and Maine, according to the U.S. Election Project. The average national turnout in 2022 was around 47%, the project found.

“I’m proud of Minnesotans for continuing to participate in democracy at such high levels. Every election is different and there are a variety of reasons why people choose to vote or choose not to vote,” said DFL Secretary of State Steve Simon, who will be serving a third term after winning reelection this year. “For my part, I’m committed to the work of ensuring each Minnesotan knows their vote counts and can make a difference in their lives.”

steve-simon.jpg
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon

Minnesota has long been a top state for voter turnout and was No. 1 in the nation in 2020. The Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office currently estimates 60.66% of the more than 4.1 million eligible voters participated in the midterm election. That’s slightly down from the all-time record midterm turnout in 2018, when 64.25% of eligible voters cast a ballot.

The U.S. Elections Project currently estimates Minnesota led the nation in turnout, but it likely won’t be certain which state had the highest turnout until the end of the year. Its estimate for Minnesota turnout is also slightly higher than the Secretary of State's and could be adjusted. Maine currently sits at 60.9% and could end up topping Minnesota.

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While the races for Minnesota governor, attorney general, secretary of state, auditor and the vast majority of legislative races have been settled, results are still considered preliminary. The final official count won’t come until the state canvassing board certifies the election results on Nov. 29.

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This year, Minnesota voters delivered complete control of state government to the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, which gained control of the Senate after six years of Republican control. The DFL now controls the Legislature and the governor's office, meaning they'll be able to pursue their priorities without major compromises with Republicans.

Overall, midterm election participation has been on the rise in Minnesota since dipping to 50.5% in 2014. Participation has been strong ever since — especially since the election of Donald Trump to the presidency in 2016.

Presidential elections attract much higher levels of voter participation than midterm elections. Minnesota had a nation-leading participation rate of nearly 80% in the 2020 election.

That year, nearly 2.2 million people, 58% percent of the electorate, chose to vote by mail because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But this year, the Secretary of State’s Office said it had accepted about 657,000 absentee ballots as of Election Day on Nov. 8. The total could grow, but it appears the total number of absentee votes will end up closer to what the state has seen in pre-pandemic elections.

Alex Derosier covers Minnesota breaking news and state government for Forum News Service.
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