Absentee ballots in St. Louis County and statewide have surged more than 180 percent in 2018 compared to the last non-presidential election in 2014.

More than 106,000 absentee ballots have been requested as of Thursday morning, according to Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon and more than 11,353 have been accepted by election officials. The request increase is 181 percent more than 2014.

In St. Louis County, ballot requests are up 116 percent with 3,160 this year compared to 1,465 in 2014.

“Minnesotans set new records for voter participation during the 2018 statewide primary election,” Simon said. “As voting for the general election gets underway, there is enthusiasm across the political spectrum to get out and vote. Today’s general election absentee ballot statistics are an encouraging early indicator that Minnesotans are on track to maintain our No. 1 in the country status for voter participation.”

St. Louis County has had 140 ballots accepted to date compared to 48 in 2014, a jump of 198 percent. The overall rate of ballots accepted are up 197 percent since 2014.

The county is home to one of the most-watched races in Congress in 2018 as Joe Radinovich, Ray “Skip” Sandman and Pete Stauber vie for the 8th Congressional District seat being vacated by Congressman Rick Nolan.

Across Minnesota there are also contested races for the state’s new governor, attorney general and two U.S. Senate seats.

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