Nov. 9 — Bruce Frey says he’s still running at election time.
“Every chance I get,” said the 73-year-old from St. Peter. “I listen to my mother, who said, ‘You have the chance to vote, you vote. I’ve never missed one.”
Frey’s attitude was widely shared during Minnesota’s 2022 midterm elections.
Local turnout hasn’t been as strong as in 2018, when the election was seen as something of a referendum on then-President Donald Trump halfway through his term. But voters turned out on Tuesday, or in early voting, in numbers that easily surpassed non-presidential elections in 2014 and 2010.
Statewide, 2,510,070 Minnesotans voted in the gubernatorial race won by Democratic Gov. Tim Walz. Secretary of State Steve Simon had not released a voter turnout estimate Wednesday afternoon, but that figure would appear to put the percentage of eligible voters participating in 2022 above 60%.
In 2018, the tally in the gubernatorial race was 2,587,287. As recently as 2014, less than 2 million people voted for governor. Official statewide turnout statistics for those years were 64.25% and 50.5%. In the 2020 presidential election, by contrast, nearly 3.3 million Minnesotans participated – 79.96% of eligible voters.
In Blue Earth County, the total number of votes cast in this year’s election was 26,510 compared to 28,135 in 2018 and 20,021 in 2014.
It was a similar trend in Nicollet County. As for the governor’s race, 15,311 county residents cast ballots, down 422 from the 2018 race and nearly 4,000 more than in 2014.
A sample of voters at St. Peter’s Community Center showed some were driven by dissatisfaction with the economy, particularly the pain of inflation at its highest level in four decades. But others have focused on the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade and the potential it would lead to restrictions on abortion and the loss of other rights.
And people were worried about the state of American democracy. That group included Frey, a Navy veteran who served in Vietnam and remembered Tuesday his longtime commitment to protecting and preserving the Constitution.
“I took the same oath as those ding-a-lings in Washington and I stand by it,” he said.
Watching voters walk in and out of the St. Peter Community Center on Tuesday afternoon boosted Frey’s mood.
“I’m amazed. I’m happy to see it,” he said. “I just hope that some of the young people who really believe in democracy don’t vote. We could lose everything.”
If Frey had arrived a few minutes earlier, he would have passed more than a few of these young people as they put on their “I voted” stickers.
Amberlina Brack, 36, said she was still voting.
“I’m a big believer in elections,” Brack said as he left his St. Peter polling station.
Michael Strode of St. Peter has strong opinions on a variety of issues, especially those at the federal level.
“There are a lot of issues that I would like them to address as reasonable, responsible adults,” Strode said.
While the 33-year-old machine operator said he had little confidence in it, voting makes him feel less helpless.
“That’s about the only way I can make a difference to how I’m governed,” Strode said.