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Low Voter Turnout Expected for Primary Election

Updated: 08/12/2014 6:23 AM
Created: 08/11/2014 12:57 PM KSTP.com
By: Megan Matthews

Primary Election Day is Tuesday, and candidates have been out campaigning for those final votes. As for voters, if the election crept up on you there's no need to panic. There are a lot of online resources to help voters make sure they're informed ahead of the election.

The secretary of state's website mnvotes.org lets voters check to see if they’re registered, find a polling place and view a sample ballot. If you haven’t registered yet, you can still register at the polls. The website also allows voters to see the candidates who have filed for office, so they can do their homework before making the vote on who should move forward to the General Election on Nov. 4.

Minnesotans are making big decisions this election year, including a U.S. Senate seat, all eight U.S. House seats, all state House seats, the governor and other state officers. The election also includes county commissioners, county sheriffs, county attorneys, auditors, treasurers and recorders.

The voter turnout for Tuesday's primary is not expected to be that large. Larry Jacobs of the University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute said in an interview with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, "This is one of the sleepiest primary elections I can remember in years."

Based on past primaries, the secretary of state's office is projecting a turnout from 10 to 15 percent. The low end of that range would be somewhere around 387,000 of Minnesota's eligible voters.

Republican candidates are hoping to unseat Gov. Mark Dayton. Of the four major candidates, there is no breakaway favorite.

Business executive Scott Honour was out Monday visiting a Stillwater diner that's caught heat for imposing a "minimum wage fee" and said he supported the owner for highlighting what he called the consequences of government raising minimum wage. Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson was banking on a get-out-the-vote operation spearheaded by the state GOP, thanks to winning the endorsement. Former House Speaker Kurt Zellers was personally calling voters, and former House Minority Leader Marty Seifert was also on the trail.

Meanwhile, investment banker Mike McFadden landed the Republic party's endorsement to take on Democratic Sen. Al Franken. State Rep. Jim Abeler declined to step aside and spent the summer running his campaign.

There are some nail-biters this year. Matt Entenza, a former state lawmaker, is challenging two-term Democratic Auditor Rebecca Otto. Entenza has dumped hundreds of thousands of his own dollars into the race. Two House races bear close watching, too. Longtime Democratic Rep. Phyllis Kahn is being challenged by Mohamud Noor for her Minneapolis-area seat. Noor is trying to become the state's first Somali-American legislator.

There are some things to remember before heading to the polls. If you vote for candidates from more than one party, it will void all of your votes in the party portion of the ballot. Those are on the front of the ballot. Nonpartisan races for local and judicial candidates, not affiliated with political parties, are listed on the back of the ballot. In some cases, voters may choose more than one candidate.

Also, for the first time this, Minnesota voters do not need an excuse to vote absentee. However, the change in the balloting process hasn't increased voter numbers. Just short of 27,000 absentee ballots were requested as of last week, which is fewer than last midterm election.

The website, mnvotes.org, also allows voters to check absentee ballot status, including when it was mailed, and if the ballot was received and accepted. For the General Election, absentee ballots will be available starting Sept. 19.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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