Early voting begins today. Here’s what you need to know.

By: - September 23, 2022 6:00 am
Early Voting signs on a building in downtown Minnesota

A woman walks past the Downtown Early Vote Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images.

Minnesotans are eligible to vote early in the state’s midterm elections in person or by mail starting on Friday.

Voters will elect Minnesota’s next governor and the person who will lead Minnesota’s state constitutional offices of attorney general, secretary of state and state auditor. On top of statewide races, all eight congressional districts and all of the Minnesota Legislature’s 201 seats are up for election.

How do I vote early?

Minnesotans can vote early beginning 46 days before an election, or Friday, Sept. 23. Voters can either cast their vote by mail or at their local election office.

Minnesotans can apply for an absentee ballot using the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website. They must provide an email address and a Minnesota driver’s license number, a state ID number or the last four digits of their Social Security number.

People looking to vote early in person can do so at their county elections office, with most open during normal business hours. Voters can register ahead of time online or on the day of at the early-voting location with proof of residence, like an ID with a current residence or a photo ID and a document with their name and current address — such as a utility bill.

Key Minnesota races to watch

DFL Gov. Tim Walz is seeking a second term against Republican challenger Scott Jensen, a Chaska family physician who spent a term in the state Senate. Walz and his fellow Democrats have criticized Jensen for his COVID-19 views — including his comparison of pandemic policies to the rise of Nazisim — and his public statements promising to ban abortion, which he has since walked back.

Jensen’s campaign has attacked Walz for rising rates of violent crime and for COVID-19 shutdowns.

Polling suggests that the race for Minnesota attorney general is neck-and-neck between Attorney General Keith Ellison and Republican Jim Schultz. A Harvard Law School graduate, Schultz has also made crime a major campaign issue, although the attorney general has a limited role in enforcing criminal statutes. Ellison says Schultz is unqualified for the role because he lacks the courtroom experience needed for attorney general.

Minnesota’s most contentious congressional race will likely be in the state’s 2nd Congressional District between Democratic U.S. Rep. Angie Craig and Republican Tyler Kistner in a rematch of 2020, where Craig narrowly beat Kistner by 9,850 votes. The race for Minnesota’s 2nd District is among the 31 U.S. House seats that are the most competitive in the country, according to the Cook Political Report. A Kistner victory could be a bellwether for the coming of a Republican speaker of the House. 

Republicans believe they have a shot at full control of the Minnesota Legislature, which would require them to hold their narrow Senate majority and flip a handful of House seats. A Republican majority would likely mean major tax and spending cuts. Democrats believe the recent redistricting that pushed more seats into the metro gives them an advantage. They’d focus on increasing education spending.

Finally, the state’s largest collection of prosecutors sits in the Office of the Hennepin County Attorney, from which current County Attorney Mike Freeman is leaving. Contenders for his spot are Mary Moriarty, the former Hennepin County chief public defender; and, retired Hennepin County judge Martha Holton Dimick. Moriarty came out with the most votes in the August primary. She’s promised a vision of progressive criminal justice reform, while Dimick has pledged to take on the rise in violent crime.

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Michelle Griffith
Michelle Griffith

Michelle Griffith covers Minnesota politics and policy for the Reformer, with a focus on marginalized communities. Most recently she was a reporter with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead in North Dakota where she covered state and local government and Indigenous issues. For two years she was also a corps member with Report for America, a national nonprofit that places journalists in local newsrooms and news deserts. She lives in St. Paul and likes to knit and watch documentaries in her free time.

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