All elections are difficult and challenging, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said Wednesday afternoon, but with a once in a century pandemic? Simon said that the push for voting from home led to record-setting numbers.
Simon said that the turnout so far is 3,216,814 voters out of the eligible 4,118,462 voters – a 78 percent turnout rate. That number will grow over the next few days.
“I’ve always said that Election Night is the Super Bowl and World Series combined,” he said. “It’s exciting and intense every time. And sometimes you need overtime or extra innings. We’re in new territory in a complex system. The counting being slower than usual is by design.”
Simon said the legislature gave the counties two extra days to count their ballots. He said that for Wednesday and Thursday, ballots received on those days go into two categories: ballots received by 8 p.m. Tuesday that weren’t processed on Tuesday, and ballots that were postmarked by Nov. 3 and received over the next two days.
By the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals order, ballots that come in by Nov. 10 – the original date specified by Simon’s office for when mail-in ballots had to be received by so long as they were postmarked by Nov. 3. Those ballots, by court order, are being segregated and counted separately but will be combined with the vote totals for reporting purposes.
“The court said nothing about how to count those,” Simon said.
Simon said that there were about 240,000 mail-in ballots that were sent out that have not been returned, but he doesn’t expect that number to get to zero. That number includes some areas that vote by mail-in ballot only but had no intention of voting, or people who requested a ballot and voted in person.
“It’s not uncommon, but especially this year,” he said. “Someone will have been recorded being sent a ballot, but decided that he likes the gameday, polling place experience. We couldn’t have a way to track that until weeks later when the numbers are reconciled.”
That would also include people who sent their ballot prior to the 8th Circuit decision, saw online that their ballot hadn’t been received, and chose to vote in person. Voting in person would invalidate their mail in ballot when the bar code is scanned.
Rep. Dean Phillips
The Associated Press has called the 3rd Congressional District for incumbent Rep. Dean Phillips. With 100 percent of the vote in, Phillips leads challenger Kendall Qualls 55 percent to 44 percent.
“I am so, so grateful. It’s a great evening and we’re just getting started,” Phillps told a Zoom “ballroom” of supporters. “We did it by promoting the values our nation needs the most right now. As I have for the past two years, I will work with both Democrats and Republicans to restore Americans’ faith in our government by reducing the corrupting influence of special interest money in politics, increasing transparency and accountability, and ensuring that power is returned to where it belongs – with the American people.”
Phillips defeated then-incumbent Erik Paulsen by the same margin in 2018 to become Minnesota’s first Jewish member of the House of Representatives. Phillips lauded the district for having the highest voter turnout rate in 2020, as well as the highest census self-reporting rate.
He did point out the problem with the pandemic celebration.
“It’s hard to make an acceptance speech with no one in the room,” he quipped.
Rep. Angie Craig
In a race that has been back-and-forth all night, including razor-thin leads both ways the first-term congresswoman who represents Minnesota’s second district has opened up a 9,000 vote lead leading Republican challenger Tyler Kistner as of Wednesday morning. When the clock struck midnight, Craig’s lead was at less than 200 votes.
State Senate Races
Bonnie Westlin, Senate District 34
Four years after losing as a first-time candidate by a 6o-40 margin to Sen. Warren Limmer, Westlin is trailing by 962 votes in her bid to upset Limmer, who has represented the Maple Grove/Osseo/Dayton district since 1995.
“We showed that we didn’t come to play,” she said. “We had a positive message and I’m just really proud of what we’ve done. It was close and it was hard-fought.”
Sen. Jeremy Miller, District 28
After a close race for most of the night in the southeastern Minnesota district, incumbent GOP Sen. Jeremy Miller is going to win a fourth term by defeating DFL challenger Sarah Kruger. He leads 58 percent to 42 percent margin, with one precinct left to come in.
Sen. Ron Latz, District 46
St. Louis Park’s Ron Latz is projected to win has nearly 73 percent of the vote in his race against Republican Bryan Björnson with more than 96 percent of the vote in.
Sen. Sandy Pappas, District 65
State Sen. Sandy Pappas of St. Paul is going to win her 10th term in the State Senate, defeating Republican Paul Holmgren 81 percent to 18 percent, with 100 percent of precincts reporting.
State House Races
Rep. Tina Liebling, House 26A
Rep. Tina Liebling is on her way to winning her 9th term in the Minnesota House, leading her Republican opponent Gary Melin 64 percent to 36 percent with all of the reporting.
Rep. Heather Edelson, House 49A
First-term DFL State Rep. Heather Edelson was unopposed in her Edina district as she won reelection.
“Honestly, it’s kind of boring when you don’t have a race to run,” she said. Edelson considers herself a moderate, and has many friends in common with former Rep. Dario Anselmo, whom she defeated in 2018. “Republicans understand they would’ve had a hard time.”
In lieu of campaigning herself, she’s been helping others, like Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn in Eden Prairie (District 48B). She’s also hopeful that a Westlin that helps flip the State Senate can help important legislation move. Edelson is the vice-chair of the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Committee and Westlin’s opponent chairs the companion committee in the senate. That means a bill like the hate crimes legislation may have a shot at becoming law.
“It’s surprising that [Limmer] wouldn’t give that a hearing,” she said. “Limmer has passed the least amount of bills possible.”
Rep. Frank Hornstein House 61A
State Rep. Frank Hornstein has won 10th term in the state legislature, defeating Republican candidate Kurtis Fechtmeyer. Hornstein picked up more than 84 percent of the vote in his Minneapolis district.
Rep. Emma Greenman, House 63B
First-time candidate Emma Greenman has this open seat that spans South Minneapolis and eastern Richfield with more than 73 percent of the vote. Greenman will replace longtime Rep. Jean Wagenius, who retired after more than 30 years in elected office.
Dan Kessler, House 47B
First-time candidate Dan Kessler fell just short of victory, losing to incumbent Greg Boe by 876 votes.
“There’s been so much outpouring of kindness and support from so many volunteers,” Kessler told the 3rd Congression District Zoom event before any of the results were in on the Secretary of State website. “Watching how Dean ran his campaign gave me a lot of guidance in how I’ve run my race.”
Stephanie Levine, Mendota Heights Mayor
Stephanie Levine, who had been a school board member for District 197, has taken the lead in her bid to become Mendota Heights mayor. Levine leads Liz Petschel, a 10-year member of the Mendota Heights City Council, by 324 votes.
Jonathan London, New Hope Mayor
New Hope City Councilmember Jon London fell short in his bid to become that city’s mayor, losing to incumbent Mayor Kathi Hemken 60 percent-39 percent.
All information comes from the Secretary of State’s website, and is considered unofficial until the results are certified.