Not a whole lot of Minnesotans voted last week, preliminary numbers show


There was an election last week – mostly for city and school board positions, plus some school funding questions (where dozens of districts asked voters to willingly accept some higher taxes to help pay for education funding).

And most of us did not vote.

The Secretary of State's website says 1,655,895 Minnesotans were registered to vote by 7 a.m. the morning of the elections (so keep in mind more people could have registered later that day).

The total number of people who voted? 247,595.

That's about 15 percent turnout.

Those are still preliminary numbers, so things might shift a bit one way or the other, but not much. And that percentage is from a state that's been described by the Washington Post (and others) as consistently having among the best voter turnout in the country.

An 'off-off-year'

A big caveat: It was an "off-off-year election," as Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Pioneer Press put it.

A presidential election is an "on-year" (so 2012, 2016, 2020, etc. etc.) and usually draws the largest crowds. The elections between those (2010, 2014, 2018, etc. etc.) when state and U.S. lawmakers are up for bid are "off-years," and dip a little bit.

An "off-off-year" would be like 2015, when the ballot is filled mainly with local city positions (mayor, city council, school boards) and no statewide race.

The last off-off-year was back in 2013, when 326,875 votes were cast and 1,881,538 Minnesotans were registered at 7 a.m. that day – about 17.3 percent turnout, according to Secretary of State numbers. That was bolstered however by mayoral races in Minneapolis and St. Paul, the two biggest cities in the state.

Stassen-Berger noted one possible solution – having these city-position elections be during even-numbered years, in turn increasing voter participation in those races – has its own negative. The ballot could get convenience-store-receipt-long, and the smaller contests completely overshadowed.

2014 dipped too

It's not like the state had record turnout in 2014 though, when a U.S. senator, all U.S. representatives, the governor, and all state representatives were on the ballot.

Nearly 4 million Minnesotans were registered to vote for that one – 1,992,566 actually cast a vote, marking the first time since 1994 that number didn't reach 2 million, The Associated Press said.

That also meant the voter turnout rate was 50.51 percent, the lowest it’s been in a general election since 1986, the Star Tribune reports.

The 2015 turnout still needs to be certified by the State Canvassing Board, which will meet later this month.

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