ST. PAUL (WCCO) — If the numbers that have come across the desk of Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie are correct, the state is on track to again lead the U.S. in voter turnout.

Early absentee ballot returns reveal Minnesota could be number one in that category for the ninth consecutive election.

“It looks like we’re on track to see that same record high number — around 78 percent — based on what we’re seeing now,” Ritchie told WCCO Radio.

In 2010, 55.4 percent of Minnesota’s voting-eligible population voted, edging Maine (55.3 percent) and Washington State (53.8 percent).

But Minnesota really leads the way in presidential election years. Four years ago, 77.8 percent cast ballots, 5 points more than the next closest state (Wisconsin) and a full 16 points clear of the national average.

It’s hard to do better than that, Ritchie said.

“You can’t make huge leaps but you can certainly do something each and every time to address the barriers and challenges that some voters face,” he said.

But some political analysts think this year could be the year we flirt with or even eclipse 80 percent. The two controversial constitutional issues -– the marriage amendment and voter ID –- could drive turnout to previously unseen levels.

The record is 78.4 percent turnout, which was set in 2004.


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