You had to feel sorry for the election judges in New Ulm this past Tuesday. They could probably hear the second hand going tick... tick........ tick............... as they waited for another voter to show up.
Voter turnout in Minnesota was about 9 percent of registered voters, according to the Secretary of State's office on Wednesday. Not even one in ten registered voters bothered to go to the polls.
Granted, there was little on the ballot to excite turnout. In this area, only the Allen Quist/ Mike Parry race for the Republican spot on the First Congressional District ballot was contentious. Neither Sen. Amy Klobuchar nor her Republican-endorsed challenger, Kurt Bills, faced a strong challenge. There were no primaries for local council or county elections.
In Brown County, 907 voted in the Republican First District primary, while 349 voted for the DFL incumbent Tim Walz. That's 1,256 voters. In 2010 in Brown County, 10,277 voted in the First District election.
What would get more voters to vote in the primaries? Some are pushing for an earlier primary in the state, say in late June. That might have drawn more interest coming soon after the Parry-Quist convention deadlock. It certainly would have spared both candidates a lot of time and money that they spent locked in an increasingly bitter duel, and allowed the winner to focus on the campaign against Walz.
Whether that will draw more voters to the primaries, we don't know. People are drawn to the polls by issues and candidate choices they perceive as important. We don't know if this particular slate would have drawn many more voters in June than in August.