A new year brings a new round of elections with a number of key offices on the ballot in 2014, and Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie is hoping for voter turnout rivaling that of a presidential election.
Minnesota is the number one state in the country for voter turnout, Ritchie said Monday, although voter turnout in gubernatorial election years is lower than presidential years. In 2010, the last gubernatorial election, voter turnout was 55 percent compared to 76 percent in the 2012 presidential election.
Key races aren’t limited to the governor’s seat. Also on the ballot is a U.S. Senate seat, all U.S. House of Representatives seats and state constitutional officers. All Minnesota House of Representative seats are up for grabs, and local races will include many county commissioners and all county sheriffs, county attorneys, auditors, treasurers and recorders.
This year, the No Excuse Absentee Balloting law goes into effect in time for the Aug. 12 Primary Election. Minnesota is among 29 states now allowing voters to cast absentee ballots without having to provide an excuse, such as being ill our out of a precinct on Election Day.
Here are a few key dates:
Feb. 4: Precinct caucuses. The Precinct Caucus Finder will be available Jan. 15 on the Minnesota Secretary of State website. The finder displays caucus locations provided by the DFL, Independence and Republican parties. Voters may also contact their political party to find caucus locations.
May 20-June 3: Candidate filing period. Candidates running for partisan office must file during this window of time.
June 27: Absentee ballots will become available for the Aug. 12 Primary Election.
July 22: Pre-registration deadline for Primary Election. Voters are encouraged to pre-register to vote to avoid long lines at their policing places. Voters who miss the deadline need not worry; they can still register at their polling place on Primary Election Day.
Aug. 12: Primary Election Day.
Sept. 19: Absentee ballots will be available for the Nov. 4 General Election.
Sept. 23: National Voter Registration Day, a special event to encourage registration.
Oct. 14: Pre-registration deadline for the General Election. Again, voters who miss the deadline may register on the day on General Election Day.
Nov. 4: General Election.
Ritchie also urges citizens to serve as election judges, or poll workers, as an opportunity to learn about elections and provide community service. Election judges are entitled to paid time off. Those interested in becoming an election judge should contact their political party or county elections office by May 1. Learn more about becoming an election judge here.