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BEST CHEAP THRILL Minneapolis 1999 -

When it comes to quickening the pulse, nothing quite matches the thrill of exercising one's constitutional right on the spur of the moment. Last year 15.79 percent of the Minnesotans who voted in the November election took advantage of this little perk--the highest percentage to have done so in a nonpresidential election since same-day registration was instituted in 1974. Pundits cited that burst of enthusiasm as a significant boost to the fortunes of one James Janos, who was swept up on its tide and carried into the governor's mansion. It should be noted that Minnesotans can justifiably take pride in our civic involvement in general. (Not that we boast about it or anything.) Turnout across the United States, which hasn't exceeded 40 percent since 1974, was 36.06 percent, the lowest ebb since 1942. In this state, 2.1 million people visited the polls out of a total voting-age population of about 3.5 million, according to numbers compiled by the Secretary of State. That's more than 60 percent, folks! Before you puff out your feathers too much, however, consider this: While Twin Cities turnout mirrored the state's figure almost precisely, Hennepin and Ramsey counties mustered comparatively lackluster performances of 57 and 55 percent respectively.

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