Minnesota voter turnout could break records


Minnesota voter turnout could break records

More Minnesotans than ever before are estimated to have cast ballots in Tuesday’s election, which could potentially produce one of the highest voter turnout rates as well.

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon estimated Wednesday that 3,223,146 voters participated in the election, either as part of the record surge in early absentee balloting or by voting on Election Day.

The estimated 78% turnout rate would be the most for the state since 2008, and Simon said that percentage could grow as high as 80% — a level not seen since the 1950s.

More than 237,000 ballots were cast in Minneapolis, breaking the city’s record for an election turnout. A record number of voters also cast early ballots, largely to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

While the city’s final turnout number may still change, an unofficial total of 237,689 ballots were cast in the election, including more than 170,000 absentee ballots. Officials said that means 80.6% of registered voters in Minneapolis participated in the election.

Statewide, a record 1,896,923 absentee ballots were processed by Election Day, with 240,364 outstanding as of Wednesday. But Simon cautioned that the number or unreturned ballots includes those sent to voters in jurisdictions that only use mail-in voting. Not all of those people participated in the election.

Other voters are believed to have requested mail ballots in advance but then decided to vote in person instead.

Simon urged patience as some counties continued to tabulate results on Wednesday. The pace of counting and reporting votes has been about as expected.

Overall, he added, Tuesday’s general election in Minnesota was administered “superbly” — and, as of yet, without signs of any cybersecurity breaches.

“We are exploring new territory in a complex system,” Simon said. “And the purpose of the system this year is to give everyone a voice in our democracy. So the slow process is very much by design.”

The Legislature earlier this year approved a law that gave counties an extra two days to count ballots. Meanwhile Simon’s office planned to report late Wednesday on how many absentee ballots came in after 8 p.m. Tuesday. Under a state court agreement in July, Simon agreed to extend by one week the deadline for receiving and counting ballots postmarked by Election Day.

But the state’s extended deadline has come under a GOP challenge, and last week the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered that ballots arriving after Election Day be set aside.

While those ballots will be segregated, Simon said election officials will still count them. He also noted that while the Eighth Circuit case deals only with the presidential race in Minnesota, future challenges could take aim at post-Election Day votes cast in down ballot races as well.

Given former Vice President Joe Biden’s wide margin over President Donald Trump in the state, Simon predicted that the Trump campaign would not challenge absentee ballots in Minnesota. As of mid-Wednesday, state officials reported no other litigation related to Tuesday’s election in Minnesota.

Twitter: @smontemayor

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