Voters Head to the Polls on Primary Day in Minnesota

August 14, 2018 07:32 PM

7:30 p.m.

During a campaign stop Tuesday afternoon, gubernatorial candidate Erin Murphy witnessed a vehicle collision outside of the business she was visiting. 


According to witnesses, Murphy, a long-time nurse,  went and assisted those involved. 

Murphy's campaign confirmed what witnesses saw.

5:00 p.m.

The Minnesota Elections and Voter Services Division said via Twitter Tuesday afternoon that there were nearly as many early voters in Minneapolis in the 2018 primary as there were for the past seven mid-term primaries combined.

KSTP's Complete Primary Election Coverage

The final number of absentee ballots cast in the primary was 14,990. 

3:00 p.m.

Ramsey County elections manager Joe Mansky said reports he's getting from election judges indicate the county will likely record its highest voter turnout for a state primary in at least 25 years.

"Our last really high turnout in a state primary was 1994, and I believe we'll be in that ballpark," Mansky said Tuesday afternoon.

Mansky said 14,000 voters cast early or absentee ballots in the lead-up to Tuesday's primary, marking an 80 percent increase from the previous high for a state primary.

He said reports from polling places in the county indicated things were running smoothly.

"We've had very few phone calls with issues," Mansky said. "It sounds like there's been a constant flow of people. But there have been no real reports of major lines."

1:45 p.m.

Steady traffic is being reported at some polling places around the Twin Cities metro area as voting continues in Tuesday's primary election.

But the locations visited by KSTP's Josh Rosenthal did not have lines of voters waiting.

Rosenthal visited Centennial United Methodist Church in Roseville, Merrian Park Community Center in St. Paul and Brian Coyle Center in Minneapolis between noon and 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Judges attributed the lack of bigger crowds to early voting.

The Minneapolis Elections and Voter Services Division reported via Twitter that approximately 31,000 Minneapolis voters had cast ballots at the polls by 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Outside the metro, Lonnie Leskie, the head election judge in Redwood Falls, said nine percent of total registered voters in the city had voted by 1:45 p.m. Tuesday. That includes those who voted early or cast absentee ballots. 

"We had a storm go through earlier, but the weather hasn't held anyone back," said Leskie, who has been an election judge for over 30 years.

11:30 a.m.

The candidates for governor have been casting their votes in Tuesday's primary election in Minnesota.

DFL candidate Erin Murphy voted Tuesday morning in St. Paul, tweeting afterward: "I've been waiting 20 months to get this sticker."

U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, meanwhile, cast his vote in Mankato. Murphy, Walz and Attorney General Lori Swanson are all competing to be the DFL candidate in November.

On the Republican side, former governor Tim Pawlenty cast his vote in Eagan, saying he planned to spend the rest of the day planting a garden, going for a hike and making thank you calls to supporters. He is competing with Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson in the Republican race.

Meanwhile, things seemed to be progressing smoothly at the polling place at Clear Lake City Hall in Sherburne County Tuesday morning.

Kari Mechtel, who was working at that location, said about 108 people had voted by 11 a.m. in the two precincts the polling place serves. She said that was pretty typical for a primary election.

Mechtel also said that new electronic poll books seemed to be operating without glitches at her location.

Kathy Paxton, the head judge at a polling place at the YMCA in Marshall, said voting there had been steady Tuesday. About 155 people had voted as of 11:15 a.m.

"It's been steady, but I wouldn't say it's been super-busy," she said.

9:45 a.m.

It's already been a busy primary day at the polls at Precinct 15 in St. Louis Park, located at Peace Presbyterian Church on Cedar Lake Road.

Roger Ruth, who is working the polls there, reported 87 people had already voted by 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. He said that was as many people as had voted total in that precinct in the last couple of primaries.

"It hasn't been as busy as the last general election, but for a primary, this is hands down as busy as I've seen," he said. "We're getting a bigger turnout. But we expected that."

Erik Hansen, the head election judge at the polling place located at the Folwell Park Recreation Center on North Dowling Avenue in the Fourth Ward in Minneapolis, said things had been a little more typical for a primary at his location thus far.

He said around 100 people had voted there by 9:45 a.m.

"It's been similar to what we've seen in past years," said Hansen, who has worked at the location the past 12 years. "I don't know how many early voters we had in this precinct. It usually comes in sports. We get a lot of late-comers after work. That's when we see a pretty consistent rush."

6:52 a.m.

Minnesota voters are confronting their busiest primary election in recent memory, with races for governor, both Senate seats and three congressional seats all on the ballot.

The biggest unsettled question may be the Democratic primary to succeed Gov. Mark Dayton. U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, Attorney General Lori Swanson and state Rep. Erin Murphy all had a path to victory.

On the Republican side, former two-term Gov. Tim Pawlenty carried big advantages in money and name recognition against Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson. Johnson was the party's endorsed candidate.

Other key races include Senate appointee Tina Smith trying to nail down the nomination to finish the last two years of Al Franken's term. And Keith Ellison, the first Muslim in Congress, is leaving to try for attorney general.

The Associated Press contributed to this story


Frank Rajkowski

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