The 2012 election should have gone off without a hitch in Minneapolis. For starters, the city clerk and his staff studied turnouts from the last two elections following redistricting, and they looked at the last three presidential elections and they monitored absentee voting beginning in September. All of their research indicated turnout would be smaller than in 2008 when 71 percent of the city’s eligible voters cast ballots. They were prepared for a 71 percent turnout, but what they got was 81 percent, or 2l5,804 voters.
That’s the largest turnout since 1944, when Franklin Roosevelt and Thomas Dewey were on the presidential ballot. The 1944 election holds the city record for voter turnout at 90 percent.
The day before the election, City Hall was transformed into the biggest polling place in Minneapolis with extra staff and extra hours to help absentee voters cast ballots.
In 2008, some 1,000 voters had turned out the day before the election. This year’s stepped-up effort attracted 220 voters, which seemed to confirm the prediction of a lower turnout.
But when the polls opened at 7 a.m. on Election Day, there were already lines forming, some of them long. Some precincts never got caught up.