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North Dakota primary sees lowest voter turnout since 2014

About 105,400 residents cast ballots in the primary and local contests, accounting for just 17.8% of eligible voters, said Secretary of State Al Jaeger.

A woman in blue points while a man shuffles papers.
Barb Sinner assists James Lockhart at an electronic voting station at the DoubleTree Inn in West Fargo on June 6, 2022, during early voting.
David Samson / The Forum
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BISMARCK — North Dakota's primary election on Tuesday, June 14, attracted the lowest voter turnout in any statewide election since 2014.

About 105,400 residents cast ballots in the primary and local contests, accounting for just 17.8% of eligible voters, said Secretary of State Al Jaeger. It's the lowest turnout since the 2014 primary when about 93,600 voters — 17.2% of those eligible — cast ballots.

( The secretary of state's website erroneously reported the turnout as 15.7% due to a technical error the office was working to fix, Jaeger told Forum News Service on Wednesday.)

Turnout was significantly down from the 2020 primary when all votes were cast by mail due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In that election, more than 160,000 residents cast ballots. This year, only about 49,000 residents cast ballots by mail.

Despite several high-profile local races in Fargo, only about 20,400 Cass County residents voted in the June election — nearly 10,000 votes fewer than in the 2020 primaries.

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In Grand Forks, Stutsman and Stark counties, more than twice as many residents voted in the June 2020 contests compared to this year's election.

Jaeger speculated that a lack of competitive statewide races contributed to the lull in turnout Tuesday.

Tuesday's ballot had only three contested races for statewide and congressional office, and all of them were decided by landslide margins.

In the 2020 primary, voters got to weigh in on a tight Republican contest for state treasurer, a three-way race for state superintendent and a Republican gubernatorial race.

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North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley, one of a handful of statewide candidates without a primary opponent, attends a Republican election night watch party on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.
Kyle Martin / The Forum

Some areas didn't have local or legislative races on the ballot this time around, which also may have kept would-be voters home, Jaeger said.

Primary elections historically draw much lower turnout than general elections.

To view results from Tuesday's election, go to https://results.sos.nd.gov/Default.aspx?map=Cty.

All results are considered unofficial until approved by the state canvassing board at the end of the month.

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Jeremy Turley is a Bismarck-based reporter for Forum News Service, which provides news coverage to publications owned by Forum Communications Company.
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