The Potluck

Minnesota voter turnout shaping up to be highest in nation yet again

By: - November 9, 2022 3:12 pm

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.

Minnesota voter turnout on Tuesday came in at a respectable 60.66%, according to Secretary of State Steve Simon. While that’s shy of the near record-setting 64.3% in 2018, it’s still comfortably above the average for midterm years going back to at least 1950.

Since the year 2000, midterm elections featuring a Republican presidential incumbent have tended to inspire the greatest levels of turnout among Minnesota voters. In 2018, for instance, many were eager to register their dissatisfaction with then-president Trump. 

This year’s relatively high turnout numbers during a Democratic administration are something of an anomaly and help explain why the DFL beat expectations, flipping the Senate and expanding its margin in the House. 

Democrats in particular were motivated by the issue of abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court’s reversal on Roe v. Wade earlier this year. An exit poll of the competitive 2nd Congressional District, won by U.S. Rep. Angie Craig, showed that Craig’s supporters overwhelmingly named abortion as their top issue priority. The poll was conducted by political scientist Christopher Chapp of St. Olaf University.

Minnesota traditionally has one of the highest turnout rates in the nation, and 2022 looks to be no exception. Preliminary data gathered by political scientist Michael McDonald suggests that the state can once again boast the highest turnout this year. The only other states posting rates above 60% are Maine and Wisconsin. The nationwide average is somewhere just under 50%, with a number of states — Hawaii, West Virginia, Mississippi and Tennessee — looking at turnout rates in the mid-30s. Those numbers may change, however, as states finalize and certify their ballots.

That high turnout is testament to the relative ease of voting here, although reformers have pointed out there are plenty of ways to make the process even more friendly to voters.

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Christopher Ingraham
Christopher Ingraham

Christopher Ingraham covers greater Minnesota and reports on data-driven stories across the state. He's the author of the book "If You Lived Here You'd Be Home By Now," about his family's journey from the Baltimore suburbs to rural northwest Minnesota. He was previously a data reporter for the Washington Post.