ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota is on its way to triple the number of people who voted early in the state's August primary election.

Figures from the Minnesota Secretary of State's office show that nearly 29,700 people had already cast their ballots by July 26 using the state's "no-excuse absentee" voting option that the Legislature passed in 2013, Minnesota Public Radio reported.

The first year no-excuse balloting was an option in 2014, more than 9,000 people had voted by that date. During the last statewide primary in 2016, more than 11,800 people had voted by that time.

The state's residents can vote in person at an early voting center or via no-excuse absentee ballot by mail at least 46 days before the election. Residents previously had to have a reason they couldn't vote in person on Election Day to submit an absentee ballot.

"More than halfway through the early absentee voting phase of the 2018 statewide primary election, I am thrilled at the growth we are seeing in voter participation in all corners of Minnesota," said Secretary of State Steve Simon. "Minnesota voters in 2018 are well on their way to maintaining our best-in-the-nation status for voter participation."

Simon said he hopes for record turnout this year in the state's primary. The state hasn't crossed the 20-percent turnout threshold in a primary since 1998.

This year's primary is still more than two weeks away on Aug. 14.