Primary turnout in Minnesota highest in 10 years

Hakimo Isse
Hakimo Isse fills out her ballot for the 2010 primary election. Isse's five children accompanied her to the polling location in the Salvation Army building on Seventh Street in St. Paul, Minn.
MPR Photo/Nikki Tundel

More than 15 percent of eligible voters in Minnesota cast ballots in Tuesday's primary, the highest turnout in a decade for a primary, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said Wednesday.

Ritchie had predicted turnout would be only 10 or 12 percent. But more than 580,000 voters, about three-fourths of them Democrats, voted in the primary.

The election also broke a record for the number of absentee ballots cast -- about 31,000 people voted absentee.

"We had incredibly high turnout given all the circumstances of the weather," Ritchie told MPR's Morning Edition.

Most of the state had heavy rain and thunderstorms, hot weather or both on Tuesday.

Ritchie attributed the high turnout to the three-way DFL race for governor.

He also said 1,080 absentee ballots were rejected at a rate of less than 4 percent. The rejection rate was better than in past elections, and Ritchie attributed it to changes to absentee ballots that decreased the chances for voter error.

It took some time for all the precincts to report results. Ritchie said it was likely because the precinct has to wait for absentee ballots to be counted before reporting results of in-precinct voting.

With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, Democrat Mark Dayton had about 6,800 more votes than Margaret Anderson Kelliher.

The race wasn't close enough to trigger an automatic recount. Kelliher congratulated Dayton on his victory late Wednesday morning.

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