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The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

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The Minnesota Daily

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Races end in low turnout

TSee Metro for coverage of the mayoral, and City Council Ward 2 and Ward 3 races.

Tuesday was not a presidential election, and the turnout numbers reflected just that.

In Minneapolis, approximately 69,633 people voted, while approximately 59,154 turned out to vote in St. Paul. In last year’s general election, 339,604 people voted in the Twin Cities.

Matt Herting, a junior studying international business and Spanish student, said he voted because it’s something people should do in a democracy.

Even though a single vote is statistically insignificant, he said, people should come out and vote anyway.

Historically, odd-numbered years yield a substantially lower voting rate.

Voting booths received ballots from 41 percent of eligible voters in Minneapolis in 2001, according to Susanne Griffin, director of elections for the city of Minneapolis.

That number is significantly lower than even-numbered election years. The presidential election of 2004 brought out 70 percent of eligible voters in Minneapolis to the polls, she said.

University political science professor Wendy Rahn said candidates in odd years, such as those taking part in mayoral and city council races, should brace for low turnouts.

Candidates have a good idea of the type of turnout they will receive, Rahn said.

“Some candidates may benefit from a higher turnout, so they’ll push harder to reach that,” she said.

Griffin attributed the variation in voter turnout in odd-numbered years to differences in policy and candidate situations.

“Turnouts generally depend on the election,” Griffin said. “If there are more incumbents in the election, less people will turn out because people generally believe the incumbent will win.”

Particular ballot initiatives, like a stadium vote or the library referendum in 2000, help increase voter turnout, she said.

Larry Tawil, co-chairman for elections in Precinct 4, Ward 2, which were conducted at Coffman Union, said turnout seemed relatively low Tuesday afternoon.

But that’s pretty common for odd-year elections, he said.

“Major elections simply have more publicity surrounding them, so students are more apt to think about them,” he said.

In addition, Tawil said, voting isn’t necessarily the most important thing on a student’s mind.

“Even when you have the polling place at a central location, students are rightfully preoccupied with their schedule and academic load,” he said. “Their current stage in life is not election-oriented.”

University employee David Hill said students understandably don’t vote in odd-year elections.

“It’s pretty hard for your average student to vote,” he said. “Your average student, even your average person, doesn’t know it is Election Day.”

However, Hill said, voting in local elections is more important that doing so in national elections.

“Change begins at home, and our local officials do more to affect our way of life,” he said.

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