The Free Press, Mankato, MN


November 7, 2012

Our View: Minnesota voters did themselves proud

— The North Star state once again took its place as the leader in voter participation.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie puts statewide turnout Tuesday at 76 percent, as a record number of Minnesotans -- nearly 3 million -- cast votes.

Locally, Blue Earth County election official Patty "O'Connor said turnout was off the charts, aided by an unexpected late surge in voter interest. Some precincts saw as many as 1,000 same-day registrations -- about double what O'Connor expected. She hasn't seen those kinds of same-day numbers since Jessie Ventura drove new voters to the polls in 1998.

Overall voter turnout in Blue Earth County was a jaw-dropping 91 percent.

It's likely two things brought some of those late-registering voters to the polls.

Long considered a lock for President Obama, Romney appeared to close the gap in Minnesota in the week leading up to the election. That no doubt drew more people leaning toward Romney to vote in hopes of an upset.  

And the constitutional amendments -- particularly the more emotionally charged marriage amendment -- no doubt drew hesitant voters to the polls as the amendments were considered near ties in public opinion polls in the days before the election.

The numbers were not as impressive nationwide, as turnout was lower than it was four years ago. Estimates are about 12 million fewer Americans voted compared to the last presidential election.

A significant part of that drop, however, wasn't due to voter apathy but to the storm-ravaged residents of the East Coast who simply couldn't get to polls or had more serious issues to deal with than casting ballots.

And some speculate that both Democrats and Republicans were less enthusiastic about their presidential candidates than they were four years ago.  

Minnesotans take pride in having the highest voter turnout in the nation. And they should be proud -- particularly those in the Mankato region who turned out in stunning numbers.

It's often said that voting is a privilege and an obligation. Minnesotans once again took their obligation seriously.

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