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Turnout

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Making Minnesota the State that Votes

Author Joan Anderson Growe, with Lori Sturdevant, Foreword by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Minnesota Historical Society Press (August 11, 2020)

The architect and chief promoter of Minnesota’s high voter turnout tells her story, showing how hard work and cooperation made the state a leader in clean, open elections.

Description

High voter turnout in Minnesota is no accident. It arose from the traditions of this state’s early Yankee and northern European immigrants, and it has been sustained by wisely chosen election policies. Many of these policies were designed and implemented during the twenty-four-year tenure of Minnesota secretary of state Joan Anderson Growe.

In inspiring and often funny prose, Growe recounts the events that framed her life and changed the state’s voting practices. She grew up in a household that never missed an election. After an astounding grassroots feminist campaign, she was elected to the state legislature in 1972; two years later, she was elected secretary of state, the state’s chief elections administrator. As one of the nation’s leading advocates for reliable elections and convenient voting, Growe worked with county officials to secure Election Day registration (used for the first time in 1974) as a Minnesota norm. She brought new technology into elections administration and promoted motor voter registration. And as an ardent feminist, she has encouraged and inspired scores of other women to run for office.

Part political history and part memoir, this book is a reminder to Minnesotans to cherish and protect their tradition of clean, open elections.

Author information

Joan Anderson Growe served as Minnesota’s secretary of state from 1975 to 1999. Widely known as an expert on voting and elections, she has served as an official election observer in various foreign elections.

Lori Sturdevant, a retired Star Tribune editorial writer, is the author of several books of Minnesota history, including Her Honor: Rosalie Wahl and the Minnesota Women’s Movement.

Reviews and news

MPR News

Star Tribune

Pioneer Press

KSTP's "At Issue"

Advance Praise:

“No matter what issue you care about, the right to vote is central. And the fight to protect that fundamental right is the single greatest fight of our time. That’s why we need a twenty-first-century civil rights movement devoted to claiming, enforcing, and defending the right to vote. Joan Anderson Growe has given us an excellent guide for that work.”
from the Foreword by Hillary Rodham Clinton

“Joan Growe made Minnesota’s democracy stronger. This book describes how—by making voting easier, running orderly elections, and paving the way for women to run for high office. It also explains why that work mattered while she was secretary of state, and why it matters more than ever today.”
Vice President Walter F. Mondale

“The woman you meet in these pages is smart, funny, tenacious, graceful, and full of candid stories about what it was like to be a trailblazing woman in politics and a champion for voting rights. Turnout is a fascinating memoir and a guidebook for grassroots politics and expanding voter participation.”
Tina Smith, US Senator from Minnesota

“Alice Paul, Mabeth Hurd Paige, and Joan Growe: women dedicated to suffrage as the surest path to freedom. Joan oversaw free and fair elections for Minnesota and across the globe. In this book, she uses history and experience to provide a road map for us as we move forward and, once again, new challenges rise for our democracy.”  
Amy Koch, former majority leader, Minnesota State Senate

“The dynamic duo of Growe and Sturdevant has written a truly must-read historical narrative that is also an intimate story of ‘one of our League’s own.’ More importantly, they’ve captured the essence of Joan’s life message for us all: change is always possible, but only if we turn out—to vote, to learn, to advocate—as active participants in our democracy.”
Michelle Swarmer Witte, executive director, League of Women Voters Minnesota 

“Minnesota’s iconic former secretary of state, Joan Growe, has written a timely book about her work to promote transparency in government and protect one of our most fundamental freedoms, our sovereign right as citizens to speak and be heard—our right to vote. It is an inspiring must-read for anyone who values this right and wishes to learn how best to preserve it.”
Paul Anderson, former associate justice, Minnesota Supreme Court 

“Having served six terms as secretary of state, Joan Growe is a Minnesota treasure. She was first elected when women were just beginning to enter politics, and her stories of challenges and accomplishments will engage and inspire a new generation of leaders. Readers will especially benefit from Growe’s expertise on election reform and her insights on reducing barriers to voting, reforming election administration, and increasing government accountability.”
Kathryn Pearson, associate professor of political science, University of Minnesota 

“This remarkable book was written for all who love our democracy and who worry about how it is doing, given nonstop assaults from enemies—foreign and domestic. Joan Growe presents a treasure chest of inspiring stories and wisdom-infused warnings. This book, the next chapter in her life of public service, is what you want from a true servant leader—straight talk and knowledgeable, heartfelt advice.”
Mark Ritchie, president, Global Minnesota, Minnesota secretary of state, 2007–15 

“The first woman elected to a Minnesota statewide office in her own right, former secretary of state Joan Growe deserves much of the credit for Minnesota leading the nation in voter turnout in the last five presidential elections—and earning the reputation as the ‘state that votes.’ In this clearly written memoir, Growe makes a persuasive case for why protecting voting rights and boosting political participation matters.”
Bill Salisbury, St. Paul Pioneer Press capitol bureau reporter

Related resources

Extraordinary Women Exhibit
Votes for Women Online Exhibit
Joan Growe profile in Votes for Women exhibit
MNHS Press Resources Related to Women's Suffrage

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  • This title is also available at your favorite e-book vendor.
  • 224 pages
  • 25 b/w photos, notes, index
  • 6 x 9 inches
  • ISBN: 9781681341637

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