Minnesota voters held the nation’s top spot for voter participation in the November general election.
“For the second election in a row, Minnesota’s voter participation was the best in America,” Secretary of State Steve Simon said Tuesday as he convened the state Canvassing Board to certify election results.
The total number of voters was 2,611,365, which is 64.25 percent of eligible Minnesota voters. That beats the next closest state, Colorado, by more than a full percentage point, Simon said.
Minnesota voters also logged the highest percentage turnout in a nonpresidential election in the state since 2002 and the highest total number of midterm voters ever.
The intense voter interest in Minnesota first surfaced earlier in the year, as both parties launched massive efforts to get their supporters to the polls.
More voters turned out for the August primary than Minnesota has seen in more than six decades, with the state posting its highest primary turnout since at least 1950.
Part of the high turnout was attributed to the growing popularity of “no-excuse absentee” voting, which allowed voters to cast early votes in person or at home. Minnesota also saw a surge of new-voter registration.
“There is still much more we need to do to make democracy meaningful and accessible for everyone,” said Simon, a Democrat who won re-election. “We can and will do more to encourage participation by young people, communities of color, new Americans, rural communities, military service members, voters with disabilities and citizens of all kinds who are disillusioned or disgusted with politics.”
Meanwhile, a Bemidji-area state House race between Democrat John Persell and Republican incumbent Matt Bliss is headed for a recount.
The Canvassing Board left with just one race outstanding — the fight for Minnesota House District 5A, which includes Bemidji, Walker and the Leech Lake Reservation.
Persell led Bliss by just eight votes in that race, well within the margin needed to merit a publicly funded recount. Secretary of State Elections Director Gary Poser said Tuesday that shortly before the board meeting he was handed an envelope containing a recount request for the race.
It was the only legislative or statewide race to qualify for a publicly funded recount, he said. A candidate could pay for a recount if he or she did not fall within the narrow margin needed to qualify for taxpayer funding, but no such recount has been requested, Poser said.
The District 5A recount will take place Dec. 3 in Beltrami County and the Canvassing Board will meet again Dec. 17 to receive the results, Poser said. Simon leads the Canvassing Board, which is also comprised of two district judges and two Minnesota Supreme Court justices.