Minneapolis

Early voters head to cast ballots in Minneapolis

2021-09-17 11:27:46 –

Minneapolis voters began casting early ballots Friday morning to decide historic questions on the future of the city, including issues surrounding policing, rent increase caps and who should run city hall.

Voting in the municipal races — the first since George Floyd’s murder by police last summer — began at the city’s polling center at 980 East Hennepin Ave., with a ballot that includes a highly debated question on whether officials should be allowed to replace the city’s Police Department with a Department of Public Safety. It is an issue drawing national scrutiny in the wake of racial reckoning that emerged in the aftermath of Floyd’s killing.

City Council candidate Elliott Payne was first in line to vote at the polling center Friday morning. He and a core group of volunteers for his campaign downed a few doughnuts before heading inside to mark their ballots.

They were jubilant, Payne said, to learn late Thursday that votes on the policing question would be counted. The state Supreme Court threw out a lower court decision that would have blocked votes on the question from being counted.

“I’m really excited about voting on the charter amendments, the Department of Public Safety. That’s one of the things that really brought me into the race,” said Payne, a candidate for First Ward in northeast Minneapolis. “And those are kind of like the two main things I’m focused on.”

Ballots also feature questions on rent control and division of power in City hall along with a near-record number of candidates vying to fill elected positions; 102 people have filed to run for public office.

Up for election are the mayor’s office, all 13 City Council seats, and places on the Board of Estimate and Taxation and the Park and Recreation Board.

The city uses a ranked-choice voting system, which allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. Voters’ second and third choices will play a significant role in determining the winner.

City officials are expecting high turnout at the polls, with more than 250,000 Minneapolis residents registered to vote. About 153,000 early voting ballots have been printed and officials have ordered an additional 183,000 ballots for Election Day, Nov. 2.

Voters casting their ballots in-person or dropping them off are required to wear masks to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Staff Writer Susan Du contributed to this report.

Faiza Mahamud • 612-673-4203

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