Our View: Northeastern Minnesota voters keep showing up at polls in high numbers
A statewide slip last week in voter participation didn't include Northeastern Minnesota, where we can proudly boast an increase in turnout over 2010, the year of the last presidential midterm election.
A statewide slip last week in voter participation didn’t include Northeastern Minnesota, where we can proudly boast an increase in turnout over 2010, the year of the last presidential midterm election.
Sure, it was just a single percentage-point increase for St. Louis, Carlton, Lake and Cook counties, but it was an increase nonetheless, showing one more time that our corner of the state - and nation - remains engaged and more than willing to participate in our representative form of governance. Clearly we get it around here. We see the importance of voting and staying involved. And while others in Minnesota can bemoan evidence that civic pride and responsibility may be deteriorating, up north here we can revel in setting a more positive example.
The voter turnout on Nov. 4 was 69 percent in the four counties of Northeastern Minnesota, according to figures from the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office. That easily eclipsed the 50.52 percent of voters who turned out statewide. It also was better than the 68 percent of eligible voters who cast ballots in 2010 in the four counties. Of the 150,573 voters eligible to participate this year in the four counties, 104,030 did so.
In St. Louis County, the voter turnout this year was 68 percent (81,928 of the 119,898 eligible voters cast ballots), eclipsing the county’s 67 percent turnout in 2010. In Carlton County, turnout was 70 percent this year (13,970 of 20,012), the same as it was in 2010. In Lake County, 72 percent voted this year (5,184 of 7,159), down a bit from the 75 percent turnout recorded in 2010. Finally, Cook County led our region in participation this year with an 84 percent voter turnout (2,948 of 3,504). That also was better than the 82 percent of eligible Cook County voters who cast ballots in 2010.
As impressive as the numbers may be around these parts, they pale in comparison to presidential-election years. The turnout in the four counties of Northeastern Minnesota in 2012, for example, when President Barack Obama was returned to the White House, was an enviable-to-the-rest-of-the-nation 94 percent. By comparison, the statewide turnout in 2012 was 76 percent. St. Louis and Cook counties led the way in the Northeast that year with 95 percent turnouts. The turnout in Lake County was 94 percent. And in Carlton County it was 93 percent.
Pretty darn good, but we can still do better. As the Star Tribune said in an editorial published elsewhere on today’s page, the political parties and all Minnesotans benefit most when more eligible voters fulfill their civic responsibility and do their duty by participating. Let the rest of the state - and nation - start following Northeastern Minnesota’s lead.