Landmark early voting turnout reported for primary elections

Voters will decide the nominees for several big-ticket government positions including governor, attorney general and key state and federal legislative seats during Tuesday's primary elections.

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Cleo Krejci

A man enters the building at Van Cleave Park, one of several polling locations around the University of Minnesota, to vote in Minnesota's primary elections on Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018.

Helen Sabrowsky and Cleo Krejci

A landmark number of people hit the polls in Minneapolis on Tuesday night to cast their votes in Minnesota’s primary elections. 

The ballots will decide the nominees for several big-ticket government positions including governor, attorney general and key state and federal legislative seats. University of Minnesota students voted in neighborhoods around campus, citing their desire for student input in the primaries.

After Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., filed to run for Minnesota attorney general earlier this year, a slew of candidates filed for his 5th Congressional District seat, including Rep. Ilhan Omar, DFL-Minneapolis and Sen. Patricia Torres Ray, DFL-Minneapolis. Former Speaker of the House Margaret Anderson Kelliher, founder of the DFL Somali Caucus Jamal Abdullahi and Frank Drake, who ran against Ellison as a Republican in 2016, also filed.  

Omar’s newly-vacated House District 60B seat is also up for grabs, and several candidates are competing for it. Among those in the race is prominent Cedar-Riverside figure and 2016 60B candidate Mohamud Noor as well as University of Minnesota students Joshua Preston and Haaris Pasha. The district includes the University, Augsburg University and the Marcy-Holmes, Prospect Park, Seward, Southeast Como and Cedar-Riverside neighborhoods.

Students and campus-area residents rallied behind different candidates, with many voicing support for DFL candidates throughout the day.

Joe Lavalier, a recent University graduate, said he cast his vote for Omar in the 5th Congressional District poll because he’s noticed her social media presence and wanted to vote for a younger candidate. Lavalier said he “trusts the youth that’s coming up right now.”

Abdalla Osman said he voted for Omar because of her progressive agenda and he considers her a role model for his young daughter.

While many candidates in the 5th Congressional District have similar political beliefs, Osman said Omar is more like an activist than a politician. Adding that he also voted for Ellison for attorney general, stating that he didn’t believe the recent domestic abuse allegations against Ellison were substantial enough to affect his vote.

Recent University graduate Kaitlin Callahan also gave her support to Omar as well as gubernatorial candidate Rep. Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul. 

“You hear a lot of very positive reports about how [Murphy] treats her staff and who she is as a person. I think she would represent Minnesota well,” Callahan said. 

TJ McKendrick, a University junior studying statistics, said she thinks students show up to vote, but that many don’t understanding the voting process. 

“If students don’t vote, their voices won’t be heard at all,” she said.

Recent University graduate Mary Troullier said she vote to ensure she has a say in the election. 

“I think a lot of people don’t assume their vote matters but then they get mad when they don’t get what they want,” Troullier said.

Spencer Shaver, a 2017 University graduate who studied environmental science, said he brought his roommate out to vote in the late afternoon. He added that he voted earlier in the day for candidates who politically support the Boundary Waters.