MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – We’re one week out from the primary elections, and early voting is significantly higher this year.
The Secretary of State says there is a 150 percent jump in absentee voting so far compared to the 2016 election. Nearly 49,000 Minnesotans have submitted their ballot.
Some of the highest increases are in Dakota, Ramsey, Hennepin, St. Louis and Olmsted Counties. Hennepin County officials said Monday that 15,300 absentee ballots have been received and accepted ahead of the Aug. 14 contest.
Minnesotans do not need an excuse to vote early. If you can’t go to your election office in person, voters in any city can also request a ballot by mail.
WCCO’s Pat Kessler has more on early voting, and what to expect in this final week before the primary.
MINNESOTA POLITICS 101: Pat Kessler Discusses Early Voting Numbers
So are these early voting numbers signaling a strong interest in next week’s primary?
It could absolutely be that, but it could also mean people are taking advantage of new laws, making it much easier to vote.
Democratic Senator Tina Smith was at Hennepin County Government Center on Monday filling out an early ballot for the primary.
WEB EXTRA: WCCO ELECTION GUIDE
Monday marks the 53rd anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which guaranteed voting rights for African Americans. Minnesota civil rights leader Dr. Josie Johnson worked to pass those laws.
She warned of efforts in Washington to restrict voting.
“I don’t understand the rationale for that. It doesn’t make sense. It’s another method to try to deny voting for African American people and people of color,” Johnson said.
We’ve had a couple of pretty edgy debates in the Republican race for Governor between Jeff Johnson and Tim Pawlenty. Is it just a sign of a close election?
It is that for sure, and real Republican infighting. Now outside groups are weighing in, like this independent expenditure for Jeff Johnson from a group called Minnesotans for Bold Reform.
This week a big week for all of the candidates, making final arguments before the primary. On Tuesday, we’ll be in Redwood Falls for FarmFest, and it’s a magnet for political candidates. Tuesday morning, the one and only face to face meeting between Democratic Senator Tina Smith and her challenger, Richard Painter.