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Minnesota: Early voting soars, including near the site of George Floyd’s killing.
ST. PAUL, Minn. — David Schultz, a professor at Hamline University here, recently gave the students in his introduction to American politics class a lecture on the history of voting rights.
In an interview outside class, he noted just how many Minnesotans were already exercising those rights — by Friday, more than 1.1 million early ballots had been accepted, far surpassing 2016 totals.
“Democrats have been heavily mobilizing to get out and vote this time,” Schultz said. “Republicans show up more on Election Day, but high turnout should bode well for Joe Biden.”
The divide in Minnesota between those Democrats who are voting early and Republicans who plan to vote on Nov. 3 matches what has been seen in other states. Rates of returned ballots have been particularly high in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties, home to the Democratic-leaning Twin Cities.
Jennifer Carnahan, the chairwoman of the Minnesota Republican Party, agreed in an interview that a large number of Republican voters would turn out on Election Day.
“For a lot of people it’s a matter of tradition,” she said. “I haven’t requested an absentee ballot. I’ve always voted in person. There are a lot of folks like me out there.”
Both parties hope a big turnout can help them in the state, which Hillary Clinton won by a surprisingly slim margin in 2016. “No one is taking anything for granted,” said Ken Martin, chairman of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, Minnesota’s version of the Democratic Party. “We are not resting on our laurels.”
Many voters here, where snow has already blanketed parts of the state, have decided to vote early or by mail to avoid crowds during the coronavirus pandemic. Election officials said turnout would be further aided by Minnesota’s voting rules, including early voting that began on Sept. 18, expanded numbers of ballot drop-off sites and same-day registration on Election Day that requires little more than the word of a neighbor for approval.
Colleen Moriarty, president of the Minneapolis chapter of the League of Women Voters, said she was hoping that younger voters would turn out in high numbers, which would be a good indication that get-out-the-vote advocacy was making an impact. “I’m in my 60s and I don’t remember an election where there have been so many messages to vote from so many different sources,” she said.
The organization has made a special point to encourage voting in the city’s Eighth and Ninth Wards, which converge at the intersection where George Floyd was pinned beneath a Minneapolis police officer’s knee before he died. In the three voting precincts immediately surrounding the site, which many now call the George Floyd memorial, 42 percent of roughly 6,000 registered voters had already cast ballots by Friday — 20 percentage points higher than the total early turnout rate in 2016.
“We are the community that led to the murder of George Floyd, and we want to make sure that everyone has a voice and that those voices are protected,” Moriarty said. “Right away at the George Floyd site, we had voter registration tables and we focused in on areas where there was a lot of civil unrest.”
In Schultz’s class, one student urged his classmates to cast their ballots.
“I cannot vote, but I would say that immigration is one of the top issues of this election,” said Bryan Rodriguez Andino, 21, an immigrant from Nicaragua who sat in the front row. He is trying to become a naturalized citizen so he can vote in future elections.
“I’m counting on you guys to make a good decision,” he told the class.
The New York Times Magazine
Win or lose, it’s Donald Trump’s Republican Party.
Republican voters are essentially the same people who voted Republican before Trump; the party’s politicians are still mostly the same people, hiring mostly the same strategists.
But their relationships to the party now flow through a single man, one who has never offered a clear vision for his political program beyond his immediate aggrandizement.
Whether Trump wins or loses in November, no one else in the party’s official ranks seems to have one, either.