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Don’t sit out primary election

It may seem unnecessary, voting on a sleepy summer day, but if you really want to have an oversized impact on the November ballot, don’t skip Tuesday’s primary election.

Sick of the gridlock in Washington? Choose the primary candidate most likely to work for solutions across party lines.

Worried about incompetent leadership at the local level? Do your due-diligence, ask around, and choose the primary candidates who will best lead the Auditor-Treasurer’s Office and the Recorder’s Office.

There are some great candidates on the primary ballot who may not make it to the general election ballot.

Those who bother to show up and vote on Tuesday will decide who makes the final cut. Why leave that decision up to someone else?

Minnesota’s primary election turnout has never been spectacular, but in the last several decades it has really been sinking.

In non-presidential election years, the primary voter turnout was about 30 percent in the 1950s, spiked to 40 percent in 1966, dipped to 20 percent in 1974, then rose again in 1978 and hovered at or just below 30 percent until 1998, when it dropped to 20 percent. It fell to the mid-teens in 2002 and 2006.

In 1950, voters were about half as likely to vote in the primary as in the general election.

By 2006 they were about a quarter as likely.

Click to find your polling location, state candidate information and voter ID requirements.

The 2010 primary vote drew a 15 percent turnout, which was the highest in 10 years, mostly due to a big influx of Democrats voting in the three-way race for governor.

For whatever reason, the presidential year primary turnout is even lower.

It was 30 percent or higher in the 1950s, hovered around 20 percent in the 1960s and 1970s, and since then has bounced up and down in the 10-20 percent range. It hit a low point of about 8 percent in 2004.

It was about 9 percent in 2012.

That’s surprising, since interest, and turnout, in the general election is generally much higher in presidential election years.

Primary elections are a key part of the democratic process. If you want good leadership, you have to have good candidates on the general election ballot in November.

The primary election decides those candidates.

And Minnesota is one of the most civic-minded states in the nation when it comes to voting.

It may well that the decades-long shift towards more politicians and fewer statesmen in Congress follows the drift towards lower primary election turnout.

That abdication of responsibility by the average voter opens a window of opportunity for more partisan voters, resulting in more partisan leadership in Washington.

Do your civic duty and vote.