Just half of the state's nearly 4 million eligible voters cast ballots this midterm election, according to preliminary turnout results released by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.

The figure -- 50 percent -- was far below historical voting trends and expectations that as many as 60 percent of Minnesotans would vote Tuesday, either in person or through absentee ballot. 

In past midterm elections, Minnesota's voter turnout rate was 55.81 percent in 2010 and 60.47 percent in 2006.

In a statement, Ritchie said voter turnout would increase slightly as some counties submit final voting statistics.

The unofficial figures show that the state received 197,691 absentee ballots, roughly 10 percent of all ballots cast. 

The state's canvassing board will certify election results Nov. 25. 

Photo: Voters arrive at the Vasa Town Hall in Welch, Minn. early Tuesday to cast their votes. (Jim Gehrz/Star Tribune)