Sarah Stultz: What will turnout be in primary election?

Published 8:01 pm Monday, August 13, 2018

Nose for News by Sarah Stultz


Another primary election is here, and this year voters have the chance to voice their opinions on some rather large seats.

Email newsletter signup

Will residents take advantage of the opportunity to get involved and pick candidates to move on to the general election who represent their views, or will they sit back and let others do so — only to complain about the options later?

I know turnout for primary elections is typically low, but I was surprised to see just how low it has been in recent years statewide: 16 percent in 2010, 9 percent in 2012, just above 10 percent in 2014 and right below 7.5 percent in 2016, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office.

In 2016, that equated to only about 295,000 Minnesotans out of an eligible 3.97 million voters.

This year, the major seats we can vote on are the DFL and Republican nominations for governor, 1st District U.S. House of Representatives, attorney general and U.S. senator. The big one on the local level is Albert Lea mayor.

An article published at the end of July in the St. Paul Pioneer Press stated Greater Minnesota voters were more likely to participate in four of the past five statewide primaries than residents of the seven-county Twin Cities metro.

In three of those primaries, the number of outstate voters was greater than in the metro.

In other words, we in outstate Minnesota have great potential to sway elections if we simply get out to vote.

The article went on to say that Minnesota’s rural voters have been reliable participants in primary elections for generations and that this could have implications for this year’s race for governor with both the Republican and DFL parties’ endorsed candidates having roots in the metro.

It’s too soon to tell if that will be the case, but I’m interested to see the results in all of these races.

If you’re reading this and you weren’t interested in voting or haven’t been out to vote yet, I encourage you to do so.

Every vote matters. 

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Tuesday.