Voter registrations, ‘energy’ spike for this midterm election


WASHINGTON – Midterm elections attract less attention and votes than those which take place when the White House is at risk, but there are signs that this year’s election may be different.

According to Minnesota’s Secretary-of-State’s office, almost 303,000 more voters registered to vote in this year’s election than in August 2018, the year of last midterm elections.

“That was quite a leap,” stated Steve Simon, Minnesota Secretary of State and a DFLer.

As we get closer to Election Day, Nov. 8, the registered voter count is expected to increase.

More than half of the state’s 5.7 million residents have registered to vote, with more than 3.6million registered voters in September. This doesn’t necessarily mean they will all vote on or before Nov. 8. Simon stated that the registration numbers in “off-year” elections indicate more enthusiasm than usual for midterms.

Spokesman for the Minnesota Republican Party Nick Majerus also stated that this would not be a sleepy, typical midterm election.

Majerus stated that he believed the base was energized by the stakes.

Simon said that this was due to the issues driving political campaigns in 2018, which Simon claimed are encouraging more Republicans and DFLers register to vote. These hot-button topics include abortion and law & order.

Simon stated, “I believe that over the past two years there’s been an awakening across all political spectrums as to the importance and value of voting.” “There is more energy around voting.”

He said that the actions of election deniers, who question the validity of 2020 election results due to false claims made by Trump, have also had an impact.

It’s difficult to determine if there is a greater number of DFL voters or Republican voters. Some close races could be affected by a greater turnout from either party.

Minnesota does not allow registration by party. However, 31 states and District of Columbia register voters by party or allow voters to register unaffiliated.

According to the University of Virginia Center for Politics there are more Democrats in 19 states where you can register by party, and the District of Columbia. The GOP holds the advantage in the 12 other states. The GOP has the advantage in 12 other states. 40% are Democrats and 29% are Republicans.

Minnesota seems to have more DFL voters than Republican voters. This is because the state has voted for Democratic presidential candidates for decades. The last time Minnesota voted for a Republican was during Richard Nixon’s 1972 landslide victory. This is the longest Democratic streak outside of the District of Columbia. However, the DFL’s actual strength cannot be determined because there isn’t a party registration. The Minnesota Senate is also under GOP control so it is not all “blue.”

Simon stated that Minnesota’s refusal to register party members is a cultural decision.

MinnPost photo by Greta Kalu
Secretary of State Steve Simon

Simon stated, “In Minnesota there’s a feeling that you aren’t willing to tell government your political affiliation.”

Voters Young voters could tip the scale

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe V. Wade was believed to have energized female voters. To determine if there was a spike in registrations of women, the New York Times used U.S. Census data, names, and other information.

It was found that Kansas’s women registered to vote rose by almost 70% following the repeal of Roe. Other states saw smaller increases. Kansas voters rejected a referendum to amend the state constitution to abolish abortion. The new voters from other states were also more likely to register for Democrats.

Minnesota did not have such an analysis. Minnesota’s Supreme Court decision in June caused voter registrations to spike. However, it’s not possible to determine if the increase was due to increased registrations of women or the increasing popularity of political campaigns as we approach November’s elections.

Minnesota has done some voter analysis. The state has done some voter analysis in Minnesota. In 2018, it found that voters aged 18-25 are less likely to register to vote. However, those 65-80 years old and older are more active voters.

Midterm year 2018, estimated voter turnout by age group
Source: Minnesota Secretary Of State

While younger voters tend to be more Democratic than older voters, they are also more conservative in some cases.

Simon believes that the number of younger voters this year will rise. This would be good news for some Democrats in the competitive races like Jeff Ettinger (ex-Hormel CEO), who is challenging Rep. Brad Finstad. Ettinger hopes that college students returning to campus like the University of Minnesota Rochester will give him an extra boost.

Minnesota boasts a high voter turnout. The turnout in 2020 was close to 80%, while it was 64.25% for the 2018 midterm elections.

Simon attributes the high turnout rate of voters to ease in voter registration. This includes online registration as well as same-day registration. 46 days is the longest period for early and mail-in voting in the country.

Minnesota is known for its politically active citizens. Populism has been a long-standing force in both DFL and GOP.

Simon and other secretaries-of-state across the country believe that the greatest challenge to 2022 elections is “pushing back on disinformation” and “the smearing the current system with half truths or untruths” meant to cast doubts about the integrity of elections.

Simon expressed concern, but said that the pandemic has made it difficult for the state to elect its electoral system.

He said, “We survived 2020 so we can endure anything.”

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