MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The final election results are in: Minnesota had its lowest voter turnout since 1986.

The state canvassing board officially certified the 2014 voter turnout at 50.5 percent.

It’s one of the last official acts for Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, who is leaving office in January after eight eventful years in what is a typically low-profile job.

But for Ritchie, it has been anything but low profile.

“I’ve spent eight years learning how to just take a deep breath,” Ritchie said.

His two terms in the spotlight included presiding over two divisive recounts in 2008, where the eventual winners were Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Democratic Sen. Al Franken.

He fought a controversial voter I.D. constitutional amendment, which Minnesota voters rejected in 2012. And conservatives took legal action against him multiple times, accusing him of ultra-partisanship.

“Did I like the fact that people were so agitated, and often that was directed at me? No,” he said. “But the job of public service doesn’t come with just rosy days. It comes with highs and lows. It comes with some tension and pressure.”

But during Ritchie’s term, Minnesota modernized badly-outdated election laws. And voter turnout was number one in the nation, twice: 76.42 percent in 2012, and 78.1 percent in 2008.

For one of his last official actions, Ritchie selected very specific neckwear: a blue U.S. Constitution tie, which he says reflects what he tried to accomplish.

“For me, it’s been a privilege to defend the Constitution, and to work within the Constitution. And so it was also fun for me to wear the Constitution,” he said.

Ritchie officially leaves office in January. He will be succeeded by Democratic State Rep. Steve Simon, who won the election this month.

Pat Kessler

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