Sep 17, 2021 - Politics
Police overhaul measure back on ballot as Minneapolis voters head to polls
early vote center
Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Early voting begins in Minneapolis this morning, with a consequential question on the future of the police department back on the ballot.

Driving the news: In an eleventh hour ruling, the Minnesota Supreme Court overruled a Hennepin County judge's decision to strike the police charter amendment from the ballot over concerns that the language was too vague.

Why it matters: Question 2, which proposes replacing the Minneapolis Police Department with a new public safety agency that could include officers "if necessary," could fundamentally change public safety in Minneapolis by removing the minimum officer requirement and giving the City Council more say in police policies.

  • Supporters had argued that the judge's intervention subverted the will of the 20,000-plus voters who signed a petition to get the measure on the ballot.

What they're saying: Both supporters and critics of the proposal applauded the court's ruling.

  • "Voters can rejoice that their voice, their civic engagement, and their votes matter," a statement from the "yes" campaign read.
  • Mayor Jacob Frey, who opposes the measure, said the court made "the right call," saying residents "deserve the opportunity to weigh in this fall and bring this debate to a close so we can move forward with clarity for our residents' safety."

Between the lines: The fight over the measure is expected to attract national attention and major spending on both sides — opponents are launching their first TV ad.

  • That battle could impact turnout and the outcome of other local contests, including the mayor's race and competitive City Council match-ups.
  • Questions on city governance and rent control, as well as the Park Board and Board of Estimate and Taxation races, are also on the ballot.

Zoom out: It's not just Minneapolis. Early voting begins in dozens of municipalities and school districts across the state today.

  • Voters in St. Paul pick a mayor, school board members and face a rent control question of their own.
  • Contests elsewhere cover city government, school boards, tax levies and other local ballot questions.

Be smart: Absentee ballots can be cast in person, often at an early vote center or local election office, or by mail. Click the links for early voting sites across Hennepin and Ramsey counties.

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