Oct 21, 2022 - Politics

Midterm elections 2022: Voting in Minnesota

midterm voting booths and signs and podium

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Election Day is Nov. 8. Here's everything you need to know about how to register, vote and understand what's on your ballot in the Twin Cities.

Why it matters: It's not a presidential election year, but the winners of Minnesota's midterm elections will shape policy that directly impacts residents' lives at the local, state and federal level.

  • Key offices ranging from governor to Hennepin County attorney are up for grabs. Control of the politically divided state Legislature is also on the line.

Yes, and: The suburban 2nd Congressional District is a top battleground in the fight for the U.S. House majority.

Voting in Minnesota

Who's eligible: U.S. citizens who have lived in Minnesota at least 20 days and will be 18 by Election Day. People who are serving felony convictions — including those on probation, parole or supervised release — cannot cast a ballot.

Early voting: Early voting began Sept. 23. All Minnesotans can cast an absentee vote in person or via mail, no "excuse" necessary. Check your registration status, request a mail ballot or find an early-vote location.

  • If you turn in your ballot early and change your mind, you have until one week before the election to ask officials to pull and invalidate it so you can cast a new one.
  • Mail ballots must arrive by Election Day in order to count. Track your ballot's status here. If you're worried about cutting it to close, you can drop your ballot to the election office that sent it to you by 3pm on Nov. 8.

Vote in person: Most polling sites will be open from 7am to 8pm on Election Day. Find your assigned voting location via the Secretary of State website.

  • You don't need to register in advance, but it's not a bad idea to check your registration status via the Secretary of State website. If you plan to register on Election Day, you should bring proof of residence.
  • Don't be deterred by lines. As long as you are in line by 8pm, you can vote.

Be smart: Want to research the candidates before you head to the polls? Take a look at a sample ballot via the secretary of state or read on for a recap of top races.

Minnesota governor: Gov. Tim Walz (D) vs. Scott Jensen (R)
Photo illustration of Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and Dr. Scott Jensen
Photos: Adam Bettcher/Getty Images for SEIU and courtesy of the campaign of Scott Jensen

Gov. Tim Walz, a former DFL congressman elected to the statewide office in 2018, is running for a second term. He faces a challenge from Republican Scott Jensen, a physician and former state senator from Chaska.

Zoom in: Abortion has become a flashpoint in the race, as Democrats spend heavily on ads blasting Jensen for past statements supporting a total ban on the procedure.

  • Jensen, who has walked back those comments in recent months, has focused on criticizing Walz over crime, inflation and pandemic school closures.

Quick take: Republicans have hoped a favorable midterm environment will lift them to victory in the state's top constitutional office for the first time since 2006. But Walz has a narrow lead in public polls.

Go deeper:

Attorney general: Keith Ellison vs. Jim Schultz

Attorney General Keith Ellison and GOP challenger Jim Schultz are locked in a tight race to be Minnesota's top legal officer.

Bios in brief: Ellison is a former congressman from Minneapolis and leader in the progressive movement. Before entering politics, he worked as an attorney focused on civil rights and defense law.

  • Schultz, a political newcomer, is a lawyer who worked for large firms and investment funds before running for office.

Driving the race: Crime and abortion. Schultz has made support for law enforcement and a pledge to focus more on violent crime centerpieces of his campaign.

  • Ellison, meanwhile, has pledged to use his post to protect abortion rights and crack down on consumer fraud.

Of note: The vast majority of criminal cases in Minnesota are, by law, prosecuted by city and county attorneys or the U.S. attorney's office, not the attorney general.

Flashback: Ellison defeated Republican Doug Wardlow by four percentage points in 2018. It was the closest statewide race on the ballot that year.

Go deeper:

Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District: Rep. Angie Craig vs. Tyler Kistner
Photo illustration of Angie Craig, tinted blue, and Tyler Kistner, tinted red, separated by a white halftone divider.
Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photos: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images and Jaida Grey Eagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A heated rematch in a suburban Twin Cities congressional district could influence the balance of power in Washington.

State of play: Democratic U.S. Rep. Angie Craig faces another challenge from Republican Tyler Kistner, a Marine who runs a consulting business, in the 2nd Congressional District.

  • The tossup race is seen as one of the most competitive U.S. House contests in the nation.

By the numbers: The race is also one of the most expensive in the nation, with outside groups on both sides spending more than $9 million combined as of Oct. 20, per Open Secrets.

Flashback: Craig, a former medical device executive who flipped the swing seat on her second try in 2018, defeated Kistner 48%-46% in 2020.

What to watch: Paula Overby, a third-party candidate running as a member of the Legal Marijuana Now Party, will remain on the ballot even after she died unexpectedly in early October.

Of note: Minnesota had as many as four competitive congressional districts in recent elections. After redistricting, the 2nd is the state's sole true swing seat remaining.

Go deeper:

Control of the state Capitol

Minnesota is home to one of the nation's only politically divided Legislatures in the nation. With all 201 state legislative seats on the ballot this year, majority control of both chambers is up for grabs.

The stakes: High. The next Legislature will, along with the governor, decide how to spend the state's record surplus and consider policy on issues ranging from schools to public safety.

State of play: Republicans had a narrow 36-31 majority in the Senate last session, thanks to two longtime DFL lawmakers leaving the party to caucus with the GOP. They need to retain 34 seats to remain in control.

  • House Democrats effectively hold 70 of 134 seats in the chamber. The magic number for the majority is 68.

What to watch: Democrats need to hold or flip seats in the suburbs to keep the House and win back the Senate.

  • Republicans, meanwhile, see opportunities to make gains in the Iron Range, a former DFL stronghold that's trended to the right in recent elections. They're also poised to pick up rural districts left open by Democratic retirements.
  • Seats in the St. Cloud area are also top battlegrounds again this year.

Go deeper:

More hot races and issues on Minnesota ballots:
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios
  • State auditor: Polls show the typically sleepy statewide race is close this year. Democratic incumbent Julie Blaha and Republican challenger Ryan Wilson have sparred over the focus and responsibilities of the role.
  • Secretary of state: Democratic incumbent Steve Simon is facing a challenge from Republican Kim Crockett in the race to serve as the state's top elections official. Outside groups aligned with Democrats have spent heavily on ads highlighting Crockett questioning the 2020 election results and calling for more restrictions on voting.
  • 1st Congressional District: An August special election for the Southern Minnesota congressional seat left open by the death of GOP Rep. Jim Hagedorn was closer than many expected. Still, most political handicappers expect the winner of that race, GOP U.S. Rep. Brad Finstad, to prevail over Democrat Jeff Ettinger in the November rematch.
  • Hennepin County attorney: Voters in Minnesota's most populous county will pick a top prosecutor for the first time in 15 years. Retired Judge Martha Holton Dimick and former Hennepin County chief public defender Mary Moriarty have clashed over ideology and approach to crime as they vie for the nonpartisan post.
  • Schools: Five of nine seats on the Minneapolis school board are up for a vote this year. The winners will shape the search for a new superintendent and face difficult decisions about the budget and declining enrollment.
  • Plus: At least 21 districts across the state are asking voters to approve or renew levies to fund local schools. The combined total of the asks is $616 million, per the Star Tribune.
More midterm election news from Axios:
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