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Primary election draws few voters

Turnout for Minnesota’s primary election Tuesday, Aug. 9, was just about 7 percent of registered voters.
McLeod County did slightly better than the rest of the state, with a turnout of 8.8 percent of its eligible voters.
That is still a pretty poor turnout, considering that the local ballot in some precincts featured contested county commissioner races. The low turnout was especially surprising because both those commissioner races drew at least one conservative candidate. In McLeod County, at least, the dedicated conservatives tend to come out to support each other. We had expected the percentage of registered voters at the polls to be in the low to mid-teens.
Which begs the question: why aren’t people coming to the polls?
Minnesota Secretary of State Steven Simon, who has dedicated a good portion of his time into energizing the election process, pointed his finger at two issues — the lack of any state races, and the date of the primary election.
As those who have been around long enough may recall, the primary election date has bounced around a bit. Before it was moved to August, the primary was held in September. But many people felt that was too close to the general election, and the date was pushed back.
August doesn’t have a single holiday in it, but it is still a month for family vacations, county fairs, back-to-school shopping and planning and a host of other family-oriented activities. People aren’t thinking politics in August; they’re rushing to enjoy the last fine days of summer before fall arrives.
Simon is pushing for a change in the primary, and is proposing a June date. That may not be much better. People are launching into the summer mode. Summer is too brief in Minnesota to not seize the day.
Perhaps a better date would be mid-May, around the time we used to have school board elections. Hopefully, that would not stretch out the election season too long, and create fed-up voters in the gap between May and the November general election.
Regardless, if you didn’t vote Aug. 9, don’t complain if your preferred candidate is not on the November ballot. Voting takes only a few minutes out of a day, and it’s a privilege worth spending a few minutes on.