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Reality Check: Voter Turnout Expected To Be Low In Primary Election

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie is estimating a low turnout for Tuesday’s statewide primary election.

Out of 3.1 million Minnesota voters, only 10-15 percent will turn out, according to Ritchie.

That could mean as few as 310,000 voters split their ballots between all political parties.

In the contested Republican Governor’s race, one of the four candidates could win the nomination with as few as 30,000 votes.

“They should be doing all the things they can to get out the vote,” Hamline University Professor David Schultz, who is predicting a turnout of 13 to 15 percent, said.

“That’s all it is at this point. This is not about new issues. This is not about campaigning. This is all about get the bodies out,” Schultz said.

During presidential election years, Minnesota turns out more voters than anywhere in the nation, with 76.1 percent voting in 2012.

But for the last 20 years, primary turnout is down: from 27 percent in 1994 to 15.9 percent in 2010.

Here’s a list of Minnesota primary turnouts since 1994:

  • 1994    27.1 percent
  • 1998    19.8 percent
  • 2002    14.9 percent
  • 2006    13.8 percent
  • 2010    15.9 percent

To help boost turnout, Minnesota’s using no-excuse absentee early voting for the first time this year.

And so far in 2014, 15,883 absentee ballots have been accepted by the Secretary of State.

That’s below the last off-year election in 2010 when 20,919 absentee ballots were cast.

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