Last-Minute Push to Get Voters Out for Minnesota’s Primary

August 13, 2018 10:18 PM

The airwaves are flooded with campaign ads, phone-banks are busy with volunteers making calls, and doors are being knocked to get voters out ahead of Tuesday’s primary in Minnesota.

But on the corner of Marshall Avenue and Fairview Avenue in St. Paul, you’ll find a group during rush hour holding signs with a variety of political messages but also ones also asking bikers, pedestrians, and motorist if they are registered to vote.


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"I think that there's a lot of energy, that would be my take,” said Grant Boulanger, a first-time primary voter. “When I ask them have you voted in the primary before, they say no, I say are you going to vote this time, they say yes.”

Boulanger, an educator, is voting for the first time himself in an August primary.

"I think its sense of urgency to the political situation locally and nationally that has gotten me excited," Boulanger said.

August primaries traditionally have not seen large amounts of voters casting ballots.

In 2016, Minnesota’s Secretary of State’s Office said 294,797 (or 7.42 percent) of voters cast ballots in the August primary.

The largest turnout in state history was back in 1952, when 34.38 percent of voters showed up for the primary.

“We don't often see first-time voters, unless they've turned 18-years-old, in primaries," said University of Minnesota Political Science
Professor Kathryn Pearson. “It's just low because a lot of people aren't paying attention to politics in August." 

Pearson’s expecting voter turnout to be more than in 2016, and if campaigns get more first-time voters, it could be a sign they found a message that’s resonating.  

"I think that shows the campaigns have done a good job of targeting voters, who they might mobilize for the first time," Pearson said.

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"The fact that we have such low voter turnout in this country is really ridiculous and disheartening," Kelly Martinson said, who helps sign up voters at Marshall Avenue and Fairview Avenue event.

She’s also a first time voter.

“I feel like the days of sitting idly by and just voting in the major elections are over," Martinson said.

The group formed when a Minneapolis man, Bryce Tache, started the #StandOnEveryCorner gatherings about a variety of political issues which have spread to other cities across the country.

The St. Paul group says they plan to be out connecting with potential voters every day until the November election.


Eric Chaloux

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