To comply with new federal regulations, Minnesotans vote in their first ever August primary – Tuesday, August 10th. Experts concerned with how expected low voter turnout could impact the general election results in November.
September primaries have been a tradition in Minnesota since 1939, but passage of the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act forced state lawmakers to move to an earlier date. This law helps ensure that votes cast by military members and other US citizens living abroad have time to be counted back home. All states must now provide at least a 45-day window between the primary and general election to accommodate absentee voting.
Some political experts predict the change in date will negatively impact voter turnout with some expecting a turnout as low as 12%. The two main reasons given for why the expectations are lower this election are a decreasing sense of party loyalty and August being the most popular time of migration to cabins and lakes.
In Paganistan many of our community members are at the Sacred Harvest Festival. The festival opened Saturday and attendance appears to be higher this year than last year.
According to Justin Lindquist, “I got there right at noon on Saturday and there were already more tents set up than last year. Definitely more people are attending this year.”
A low voter turnout means that a very small number of people decides who ends up being the ultimate officeholder, especially in areas where one party dominates. The winner of a nine-way DFL primary St Paul’s East Side Senate race will most assuredly take the seat in the November.
Even in our Governor’s race, the primary has an out of scale effect. The candidates for the DFL nod are Mark Dayton, Matt Entenza, and Maragaret Anderson Kelliher. According to polling by KSTP/SurveyUSA, any one of the three DFL candidates would win against expected Republican primary winner Tom Emmer. This means that on Tuesday, fewer than 350,000 Minnesotans could decide who our next governor will be.
Sacred Harvest Festival organizers made an effort to get the word out that the primaries would be held during the festival and posted information on how attendees could vote absentee. It remains to be seen if the August move will depress voter turnout and how many SHF attendees voted in the primary by absentee ballot. For those not attending the festival, you may register on site at your polling location on the day of the primary.