Midterm voter turnout varied widely across Minnesota

Cook County, in far northeast Minnesota, had the highest voter turnout in the state in the November election.

70 percent of voters cast ballots in Cook County in November, compared to a statewide average of just over 50 percent. Grant and Lake of the Woods Counties were next highest, at 61 percent.

On the other end of the spectrum, only 39 percent of voters cast ballots in Winona County, the lowest rate in the state.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said that's part of a trend in voter drop-offs in student and college-rich areas. "So that's a signal over time," he said, "a focus that really has to be considered."

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Cook County Financial Coordinator Karen Blackburn said a high-profile sheriff's race helped drive voters to the polls.

"That was our biggest draw, and that's why most people voted," Blackburn said.

Cook County also had the highest turnout in 2010, but by a much smaller margin.

Twin Cities metro area counties had the biggest turnout in the last two presidential election years, according to data released by the Secretary of State's Office.

The county with the highest voter registration rate this year was Carver County, in the west metro, at 91 percent.