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Forum and wire reports, Published August 14 2012

Minnesota primary voting under way; light turnout expected

MOORHEAD – Minnesota voters are heading to the polls today for a primary election expected to draw low turnout.

The polls opened at 7 a.m., and by 7:30 a.m., six voters had cast ballots at Moorhead’s Hjemkomst Center, where an election judge anticipated a light turnout.

At the Knutson Center, the polling site for the Concordia College campus, election judge Anna Luttio said that with fall classes not yet in session, few voters are expected. This year is only the second time Minnesota has held the primary election in August, since moving it up from September two years ago to give military and overseas voters more time to vote in the general election.

“I’ve been told there’s hardly anybody coming here today,” Luttio said.

The polls are open until 8 p.m.

Two Clay County Commission seats are contested, with five candidates in District 2 and four in District 3.

In Minnesota House District 4A, voters are choosing from three Republicans or two Democrats to potentially fill the shoes of longtime Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, who didn’t seek re-election. Seeking the GOP nod are Benjamin Larson, Ken Lucier and Travis Reimche. The Democrats on the ballot are Sue Wiger and Ben Lien. The top vote-getter from each party will advance to the November election.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said Monday he expected less than 15 percent of eligible voters to participate, with heightened interest in the northeastern 8th District and the southern 1st District. Voter turnout two years ago was 15.5 percent, and that was with a close Democratic primary in the governor’s race.

Two competitive races to pick Minnesota congressional challengers were generating interest in the northeastern and southern parts of the state.

Democratic voters in northeastern Minnesota will choose an opponent for Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack, a conservative newcomer who upset longtime Democratic Rep. Jim Oberstar two years ago in what had been considered safe blue territory. Former Duluth City Councilor Jeff Anderson, former state Sen. Tarryl Clark and former Rep. Rick Nolan are competing for the chance to challenge Cravaack in a race that went negative last week, with attack ads traded between Clark and the Minnesota DFL, which supports Nolan.

In the south, Republican voters were choosing between state Sen. Mike Parry and former state Rep. Allen Quist in a fight that has gotten personal. The winner will run against Democratic Rep. Tim Walz in a district that has usually been seen as competitive. This year, Walz is seen as relatively safe after the Republicans tore into each other over over-the-top comments by each. Most recently, Parry drew condemnation after accusing Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, of popping pills in a meeting.