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Minnesota smashes one-day record for voter registration

ST. PAUL—Minnesotans must be eager to vote in the Nov. 8 election.

Nearly 47,000 registered to vote online last week, with about 27,000 on Friday, Sept. 23, alone, smashing the one-day record of 7,602.

The big interest in registering, as well as early voting, bodes well for high voter turnout in the 2016 election.

Secretary of State Steve Simon announced the figures on Monday, Sept. 26.

Simon credited three things for the record registration (which includes updating existing registrations): the beginning of early voting Friday, Facebook reminding users to register to vote and the series of presidential debates that began Monday night.

Both major Minnesota political parties pushed early voting. They staged media events and invited people to lock in their votes as soon as possible.

The state's early voting actually is absentee voting, but without voters being required to provide a reason why they cannot be at the polls on election day.

Ryan Furlong of Simon's office reported that as of Monday morning, Sept. 26, more than 100,000 absentee ballots had been distributed and 1,529 Minnesotans already had voted. Just 496 had voted at the same time two years ago, but 2,308 sent in their ballots four years ago.

People who cast absentee ballots can change their minds up to a week before Election Day. Voters who want to change must contact the election official who provided the absentee ballot and get a new one.

Simon used the voter registration announcement to encourage Minnesotans to vote.

"I'm challenging the people of Minnesota to return our state back to No. 1 in voter turnout in the country, and these historic online voter registration numbers are a positive sign that Minnesotans are preparing to step up to the challenge," Simon said.

For years, Minnesota led the country in voter turnout in general elections; that ended two years ago.

Simon said Minnesota has more than 3.2 million registered voters, but another 800,000 are eligible and not registered.

Minnesotans may go to to register and find other election-related information.

In an effort to increase turnout, Simon's office and the Minnesota Lynx professional women's basketball team produced a public service announcement to appear on Fox Sports North, which carries Lynx games.

"Get in the game, Minnesota, and vote on Nov. 8," Hutchinson, Minn., native Lindsay Whalen says in the spot.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.