Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glenn Howatt
Absentee ballots are streaming to election offices across the state but very few of those early voters are new voters, according to a Star Tribune analysis.
Only 5.6 percent of the nearly 34,000 voters who have already had ballots accepted did not vote in the last midterm election year, 2010. Another five percent did not vote in 2010 or 2012, the last presidential election year.
The analysis indicates that despite pushes from both Democrats and Republicans, new voters are not yet availing themselves of the law that allows anyone to vote by absentee.
About 34,000 people voted by absentee ballot as of Oct. 14. Another 6,000, in small, rural precincts, voted by mail.
Of the people who cast absentee ballots, 29 percent also voted absentee in both the 2010 and 2012 elections. Another 31 percent went to the polls in both of those election years.
The analysis also shows that more voters who have already had ballots counted come from Democratic areas than from Republican areas. By county, by Minnesota House district and even by precinct, more ballots are flowing in from areas that lean toward Democrats than lean toward Republicans.
Nearly half of absentee ballots have been cast by voters who live in Democratic House districts, 32 percent came from those in Republican House districts and about 19 percent came from swing districts.
Minnesota voters do not register by party so the Star Tribune does not have access to the personal politics of voters.
Keith Downey, chairman of the Minnesota Republican Party, and Ken Martin, chairman of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, have both been pouring over absentee voter list. Both parties have invested in identifying voters by party.
With that data, the DFL and the Republican Party have come up with different results.
Martin, the DFL chairman, said their numbers show that 59 percent of absentee ballots have been cast by voters they have identified as Democrats. Martin said many of those Democrats are infrequent voters -- exactly the demographic they have need to turnout if the DFL is to do well this year.
The Republican Party shows statewide 39 percent of absentee votes so far have come from Republicans, 36 percent came from Democrats and 25 percent came from independent or unidentified voters, Republican chair Downey said.
Across the state, significantly more voters are opting to vote absentee than had in the 2010 election, according to the secretary of state.
Compared to nearly 40,000 accepted ballots as of Wednesday, election officials had only accepted 23,000 absentee ballots by this point in the 2010 election.
This year for the first time, anyone who wants to vote absentee can do so regardless of whether they can show up at the polls on Election Day. Previously, voters would have to offer an excuse for why they needed to vote absentee.
Below, see the number of ballots already cast and accepted, by county.
Updated to reflect more specific numbers.
WASHINGTON -- A new internal GOP poll puts Seventh Congressional District Republican candidate Torrey Westrom within striking distance of veteran Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson.
The poll, released Thursday by Westrom's campaign, shows Westrom at 44 and Peterson at 43 percent approval, with 13 percent of people still undecided. This is a four-point gain for Westrom in six weeks.
Peterson was elected to Congress in 1990. Westrom is a state lawmaker.
The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 5.8 points and was based on a telephone survey of 300 "likely" voters Oct. 12 - 14.
Wednesday was the latest filing day for U.S. House candidates and the cash is rolling in.
According to Federal Election Commission filings and information from campaigns, Republican Reps. John Kline and Erik Paulsen lead all candidates in how much cash they have left in the bank. Although neither of their suburban districts are targeted by national outside spending, both have more than $1.5 million in their war chests.
In the targeted western Seventh Congressional District, Democratic U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson has raised and spent more than his Republican challenger Torrey Westrom and has nearly twice as much left in the bank.
According to FEC files, independent groups have pumped more than $4.8 million into that district, a thousand-fold more than outside groups spent in 2012. The district which has a Republican tilt but has long sent Peterson to Washington by overwhelming margins.
Outside groups have already spent $6.6 million in the highly northern Eighth District, which has swung between Democratic and Republican representation in recent years.
In that race, the candidates -- Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan and Republican challenger Stewart Mills -- have kept competitive in fundraising but Nolan has more cash on hand going into the final stretch. Mills has added to his cash haul by lending his campaign $250,000 so far.
See the other numbers available below. The chart will be updated as more numbers become available.
WASHINGTON -- Despite the Republican-leanings of his Seventh Congressional District, Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson is showing a nine-point lead on his GOP challenger Torrey Westrom in a recent poll.
Fifty percent of 545 likely voters surveyed Oct. 3 - Oct. 6 said they supported Peterson, who is running for his 13th Congressional term. Forty-one percent supported Westrom, a state senator from Elbow Lake. Ten percent were still undecided.
The poll was conducted by Survey USA by KSTP.
Among the same set of voters, 28 percent ranked health care ranked among the most important issues in the election, followed by terrorism and then taxes.
WASHINGTON -- The National Rifle Association threw support behind two Minnesotans on Wednesday hoping to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives: an incumbent Democrat and a Republican challenger.
Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson, who was earlier named best marksman in the U.S. Congress, garnered the endorsement of the NRA Wednesday. Peterson is running to keep his Seventh Congressional District seat against GOP challenger Torrey Westrom.
"Throughout his career, Collin Peterson has consistently opposed all attempts to ban lawfully owned firearms and magazines and has stood strong against the Obama-Bloomberg agenda, said Chris W. Cox, chairman of the NRA's Political Victory Fund.
This is an unusual move for the NRA, which almost always endorses Republicans, though the organization seems to like Peterson since this is the fourth time they've backed him. The only other known Democrat endorsed this week by the group is a Georgia congressman.
The organization also endorsed Republican Stewart Mills, who is running to unseat Democrat Rep. Rick Nolan in the Eighth Congressional District.
"Over five million active NRA members, many of them in our part of Minnesota, know that the Second Amendment is about so much more than just hunting -- and they know we need a representative who will stand up for those rights," Mills' camp said in a statement.