Minnesota votes in big numbers for Biden

Voters drop off ballots on Election Day at the former Kmart building on Lake Street.

Minnesotans turned out in full force for former Vice President Joe Biden, with turnout projected to rival record levels.

Biden is leading with 52.4% of Minnesota’s vote, while President Donald Trump currently holds 45.3%, based on unofficial results with 99% of precincts reporting. Minnesota’s election night results were expected to represent all of the in-person votes and a substantial number of the absentee ballots received by election day, Secretary of State Steve Simon said in a late afternoon Nov. 3 briefing. Minnesota counties will continue to send updated absentee ballot tallies over the next seven days.

Although a court order required officials to separate absentee ballots that arrive after 8 p.m. on Election Day, Simon said they planned to go “full steam ahead” and count them all. It would take a party’s challenge and further court action to invalidate ballots, he said.

“I’m scared to go home and turn on the TV,” said Becky Dankowski, who spent election night on the 38th Street bridge over Interstate 35W, where a group is demonstrating every Tuesday until the end of the year to remember George Floyd and others lost to police violence.

Becky Dankowski demonstrated Tuesday on the 38th Street bridge. “It makes me feel good to do something positive,” she said.

Sitting outside the Loon Smoke Shop, Patrizio Della Luna said he planned to spend the night roaming the city.

“We’re going to listen to the sounds of the people,” he said.

Patrizio Della Luna, a resident of the Wedge, said the neighborhood seemed quiet before the polls closed on Election Day.

Nicolette Bryant hopped a bus on Hennepin after voting; she planned to go home and await the outcome.

“We’ve got to get that orange buffoon out of office,” she said.

Election Day voter Nicolette Bryant.

Boarded windows started appearing late in the day in Uptown. But at polling places, voters said they felt safe and didn’t notice anything amiss.

Boards went up at Kitchen Window and neighboring shops in Uptown the evening of Election Day.

Simon reported no significant conflicts by the afternoon of Election Day, and no reports of voter intimidation or suppression. One precinct had a temporary power outage, there were a few glitchy machines and there was a signage mishap, he said.

“Things have gone very, very smoothly,” he said.

ECCO resident Mike Pignato works at Dorsey & Whitney in the nonpartisan Election Protection Project. The call center’s hotline had received about 250 calls by 9 a.m. on Election Day, answering questions from Minnesota, Kentucky and Louisiana about absentee ballots delayed in the mail and curbside voting for those concerned about COVID-19. One voter refused to wear a mask and called the hotline, upset that an election judge followed a policy to take down their name.

After fielding questions from voters in other states, Pignato said he appreciates that Minnesota makes it easy to vote. In Kentucky, some precincts closed earlier than promised, and some voters weren’t receiving absentee ballots requested weeks prior.

“You feel really good when you’re able to help someone exercise a right that’s been fought over, that’s been battled over and that’s often taken for granted,” he said.  “To be part of that as a fundamental part of democracy, it just feels [like] the right thing to do.”

Sarah Quimby volunteered as a Common Cause election monitor at Whittier Park, where she answered voter questions and watched for any signs of voter intimidation, excessively long lines or misinformation.

Incumbent Sen. Tina Smith leads Wednesday with 48.8% of the vote, while Republican Jason Lewis has 43.5% with 99% of precincts reporting.

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar retained her district with 64.3% of the vote on election night, beating Republican Lacy Johnson’s 25.8% and Legal Marijuana Now candidate Michael Moore’s 9.5%.

State Sen. Scott Dibble retained his District 61 seat with 85.9% of the vote, beating Republican Jennifer Zielinski’s 15%.

State Rep. Frank Hornstein keeps his seat in District 61A after defeating Republican challenger Kurtis Fechtmeyer with 84.5% of the vote.

Democratic socialist Omar Fateh, who upset longtime District 62 State Sen. Jeff Hayden in the DFL primary, went on to beat Republican Bruce Lundeen with 89% of the vote.

DFL State Sen. Bobby Joe Champion kept his District 59 seat with 82.2% of the vote, defeating Republican challenger Paul Anderson.

DFLer Esther Agbaje, who upset incumbent District 59B State Rep. Raymond Dehn in the primary, went on to win with 74.6% of the vote, defeating Republican Alan Shilepsky, who received 17.7% of votes, and Green Party candidate Lisa Neal-Delgado, who received 7.6%.

State Rep. Jamie Long will keep his District 61B seat after defeating Republican challenger Lisa Pohlman with 84.1% of the vote.

State Rep. Hodan Hassan earned 89.7% of the vote to stay in District 62A, defeating Republican Arjun Kataria.

And in District 62B, DFL incumbent State Rep. Aisha Gomez received nearly 91% of the vote to beat Republican Ross Tenneson.

In the Minnesota Supreme Court race, Paul Thissen leads with 59.1% of the vote, while challenger Michelle MacDonald has 40.6% of the vote with 99% of precincts reporting.

Minneapolitans decisively approved two referendum questions. One relates to the timing of redistricting and elections, and the other requires that elections for vacated council and mayoral seats take place on state-approved election days.

“I’m trying to think about the nice weather,” said Election Day voter Matthew Gadd (seated at left), pictured near Whittier International Elementary with Colette Baumgardner, Erika Shepard, Stephanie Brown, a man who declined to share his name, Natalie Strait and Abigail Strait.
Tracy Heuer and Koen voted at Kenny Elementary School.
A man who declined to share his name asked passersby for money at Franklin & Hennepin. Someone gave him the hat, and he didn’t vote himself, he said. He said his vote wouldn’t matter.
Ross Perry and Katie Streitz in Uptown.
Pictured at 53rd & Logan