High Somali-American turnout on first day of absentee in-person voting

Minneapolis city officials say at least 300 people have come to the City Hall rotunda today to cast an early absentee primary ballot, June 27, 2014.
Brandt Williams/MPR News

Hundreds of Somali-Americans cast in-person absentee ballots for the Aug. 12 primary at Minneapolis City Hall today, taking advantage of new rules that dispense with the requirement to provide an explanation for not voting on Election Day.

Community activist Omar Jamal says most of the voters are weighing in on the DFL primary contest between Mohamud Noor and incumbent DFL Rep. Phyllis Kahn. He's not surprised that so many Somali Americans came out to cast absentee ballots.

"In order to get immigrants mobilized into voting booths, all you have to do is make one of them run for an office," he said. "They will come out of the woodwork."

City clerk Casey Carl says he supports the new system that allows for absentee voting without explanation. He says it's especially helpful to members of immigrant communities.

"I think it's a great idea for specific populations who have access, mobility, translation or any support requirements to cast their ballot, independently, with dignity," he said. "Doing so during absentee in-person voting 45 days before is the best situation we can provide."

City officials say 447 ballots were cast in person in Minneapolis today.

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