2020 Southwest Minneapolis voter’s guide

Voting basics

To minimize direct contact with other people, officials are encouraging absentee voting this year.

With an Oct. 29 court order putting mailed ballots received after Election Day at risk of not being counted, city officials are urging Minneapolis voters not to mail in their ballots. Instead, voters can drop them off in person at one of 13 drop-off stations where absentee ballots can be deposited up until 3 p.m. on Election Day. In Southwest, drop-off sites are at the Kmart Parking Lot at Lake & Nicollet, Mount Olivet Lutheran Church at 50th & Knox and St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church at 35th & Irving. Ballots can also be dropped off at the Minneapolis Early Vote Center, 980 Hennepin Ave. E., or the Hennepin County Government Center, 300 S. 6th St.

If you’ve already sent in your ballot by mail, you can check whether it has been received at mnvotes.sos.state.mn.us/AbsenteeBallotStatus.aspx.

Both the Early Vote Center and the Hennepin County Government Center are open for in-person voting every weekday (except Oct. 12) through the day before Election Day. The Early Vote Center will add Saturday and Sunday hours — and the government center will add Saturday hours — the final two weekends before the election. From Oct. 27 to Nov. 2, early voting is also available at Longfellow Park Recreation Center, 3435 36th Ave. S., and Urban League Twin Cities, 2100 Plymouth Ave. N. See hours for all four locations.

For a sample ballot, go to myballotmn.sos.state.mn.us. Sample ballots include links to candidate websites.

You can pre-register and check your registration to vote at mnvotes.org until Oct. 13. Although pre-registration is not necessary, it makes voting simpler, whether you vote in person or by mail.

In-person polls will be open 7 a.m.-8 p.m. for the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 3. Due to COVID-19, many polling places have moved. Be sure to check your polling place before you go vote at pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us. Minneapolis residents can go to vote.minneapolismn.gov for information on early voting, voter registration and other voter resources.

Precincts will start reporting results when polls close on Nov. 3, but due to the high numbers of absentee ballots expected to be cast this fall, final results may not be available for up to a week after Election Day. Election-night results will include information on the number of absentee ballots yet to be reported.

What’s on the ballot?

Federal offices

U.S. President and Vice President: President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence (GOP) face off against former Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris (DFL) in this year’s big-draw race. Seven other party tickets are also on the ballot, including — yes — rapper Kanye West, who is running with Wyoming preacher Michelle Tidball. Jo Jorgensen is leading the ticket for the Libertarian Party and Howie Hawkins for the Green Party.

U.S. Senator: Incumbent Sen. Tina Smith (DFL) is looking to be elected for her first full term in office after winning a 2018 special election to replace Sen. Al Franken (DFL), following his resignation amid accusations of sexual misconduct. Smith is challenged by former congressman Jason Lewis (GOP), who lost his 2nd District seat in 2018. Also appearing on the ballot are Kevin O’Connor (Legal Marijuana Now) and Oliver Steinberg (Grassroots — Legalize Cannabis).

U.S. Representative, 5th District: Incumbent Rep. Ilhan Omar bested well- funded challenger Antone Melton-Meaux in the DFL primary this August. She faces a challenge from Lacy Johnson (GOP), a North Minneapolis businessman, and Michael Moore (Legal Marijuana Now) in the general election.

Local offices

County Commissioner: Minneapolis voters will not be weighing in on any of the four Hennepin County board seats on the ballot this year. This year’s contested seats represent communities north, south and west of the city. In District 5, incumbent Debbie Goettel is running for a second term against challenger Boni Njenga. There are open seats in Districts 1, 6 and 7.

School Board Member: There are three contested board seats on the ballot this year. For the at-large seat, incumbent Kim Ellison is facing a challenge from Michael Dueñes. In District 4, Christa Mims and Adriana Cerrillo vie for the seat vacated by Bob Walser. And in District 2, incumbent KerryJo Felder is competing against Sharon El-Amin. Ellison, Mims and Felder have the DFL endorsements.

Ira Jourdain is running uncontested in District 6.

State offices

State Senator: There are three state Senate seats on the ballot this year in districts overlapping with the Southwest Journal’s coverage area. In 62, Omar Fateh, a Democratic Socialist who upset incumbent Jeff Hayden in the August DFL primary, is up against Bruce Lundeen, a perennial GOP candidate in local races. In 61, incumbent Scott Dibble (DFL) faces a challenge from Jennifer Zielinski (GOP). And in 59, incumbent Bobby Joe Champion (DFL), who cruised to victory over challenger Suleiman Isse in August, is now running against Paul Anderson (GOP).

State Representative: In District 59B, Esther Agbaje (DFL), a former State Department officer who narrowly won an August primary race against incumbent Raymond Dehn, is competing against Alan Shilepsky (GOP) and Lisa Neal-Delgado (Green Party). 

In Southwest’s four other state House races, a group of DFL incumbents  — one a seasoned veteran, the others freshmen lawmakers — look to hold onto their seats against Republican challengers. Frank Hornstein, first elected to represent 61A in 2002, is challenged by Kurtis Fechtmeyer. Jamie Long (61B), Hodan Hassan (62A) and Aisha Gomez (62B) look to win second terms in races against Lisa Pohlman, Arjun Kataria and Ross Tenneson, respectively. 

Judges: There is one contested race on the ballot this year for a seat on the Minnesota Supreme Court. Incumbent Paul Thissen is being challenged by Michelle MacDonald, who was suspended from practicing law for 60 days in 2018. The Minnesota State Bar Association has posted candidate questionnaires on its website. Go here for more information.

Also appearing on the ballot are a number of uncontested Court of Appeals and Fourth District races.

Ballot questions

The Minneapolis Charter Commission’s decision in August to continue reviewing an amendment proposal that would have started the process of dismantling the city’s police department means there won’t be anything about policing on city residents’ ballots come November.

But there will be two other questions for voters to decide. One is a procedural question that simply updates language in the city charter to mirror state law about special elections. The other is more substantial: It will determine whether council elections will be decoupled from mayor elections after 2021.

Read more about these questions here.

This voter’s guide was compiled by Zac Farber and Nate Gotlieb, with reporting contributed by MinnPost.