Early voting in Minnesota shows big spike in first week

Early voting in Minnesota only started six days ago, but requests for ballots are already way up compared to the last midterm election.

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon reported Thursday that Minnesotans have requested  at least 106,061 no-excuse absentee ballots, nearly three times the number requested during the same time period in 2014.

Already, 11,353 ballots have been accepted by county election officials.

It's just the latest sign of energized voters this cycle, after turnout in August was the highest for a primary election since at least 1950.

More than 36,000 of the early ballots for the November election were requested from residents in Hennepin County, the state's most populous, urban county.

Minnesotans have had the option to vote early by mail or in person since 2014, when lawmakers passed a no-excuse absentee voting law. Previously, voters had to have a reason to cast their ballots before Election day. Early voting started 46 days before the Nov. 6 election.

The 2018 stakes are high for both parties. There's an open governor's race, two U.S. Senate seats, four competitive congressional races and four other constitutional offices on the ballot. The election will also decide control of the state Legislature, where all 134 House members are on the ballot.

“Minnesotans set new records for voter participation during the 2018 statewide primary election,” Simon said. “As voting for the general election gets underway, there is enthusiasm across the political spectrum to get out and vote."

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