The primary is still more than two weeks away, but already this election year is shaping up to be a historic one in Minnesota.

Early voting by absentee ballots is on pace to reach a record, with nearly 30,000 ballots submitted so far for the Aug. 14 primary, Secretary of State Steve Simon said last week. That’s up 151 percent from this time in 2016.

“More than halfway through the early absentee voting phase of the 2018 statewide primary … I am thrilled at the growth we are seeing in voter participation in all corners of Minnesota,” Simon said in a statement. “Minnesota voters in 2018 are well on their way to maintaining our best-in-the-nation status for voter participation.”

Minnesota has traditionally led the nation in voter turnout, and early “no-excuse” absentee ballots have grown in popularity since the state allowed it in 2013. In 2014, the state received 9,062 absentee ballots as of July 26. In 2016, that went up to 11,806 ballots.

So far this year, Hennepin — the state’s largest county — leads the way with more than 8,100 ballots, followed by Ramsey with 1,800 and Dakota with 1,400 ballots. Two northern Minnesota counties follow, with 1,100 ballots cast in St. Louis and Itasca with about 1,000 ballots.

This is a busy election year, with an open governor’s race and other local, statewide, congressional and legislative districts on the ballot. To request a ballot, go to