6 things to know about the Aug. 9 election
Southern Minnesota voters will see congressional election on ballot with other primary elections.
ROCHESTER — Minnesota’s local and state primary elections are five weeks away, with the election of southern Minnesota’s next congressional representative slated to be on the same ballot.
As the Aug. 9 primary and special congressional election nears, here are a few things to know:
1. The statewide primary races are on the front of the ballot.
Ballots throughout the state feature a four-column front, calling for voters to select a single column, based on political party.
Since statewide primaries are partisan, voters in the primary are only allowed to vote for candidates in one of four major parties — the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, the Republican Party, the Legal Marijuana Now Party or the Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party.
“Voters will get to choose to vote in one of those columns,” said Kathryn Smith, Olmsted County’s associate director of property records and licensing.
Within the selected column, a voter will select one candidate in each included race to determine which candidate is on the Nov. 8 ballot.
2. More voting is found on the back side of the ballot.
Candidates for the open Congressional District 1 seat are listed on the back of ballots throughout the southern Minnesota district, including all of Olmsted County.
In addition to selecting someone to immediately fill the seat left empty with the death of Rep. Jim Hagedorn, the back of the ballot will include any local primary races, where the number of candidates need to be reduced to two for the No. 8 ballot.
That includes two Olmsted County commissioner districts, three seats on the Rochester School Board, the Rochester mayor race and two Rochester City Council positions.
Each ballot will seek a single vote in each race listed, based on location.
3. Two congressional votes will be cast.
While the special election for the open Congressional District 1 seat will fill the position through the end of the year, a primary is also being held to determine who will be a candidate to fill the position next year.
As a result, two of the four candidates in the special election face a challenge for a spot on the Nov. 8 ballot.
In the Republican Party, Brad Finstad is being challenged by Jeremy Munson, and in the DFL column, Jeff Ettinger faces challenges from James Rainwater and George Kalberer.
While Richard Reisdorf is listed as the sole Legal Marijuana Now Party candidate in the special election and the primary, Haroun McClellan is only listed as a Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party candidate in the special election. Brian Abrahamson is the sole Grassroots candidate in the primary election.
4. Complexity of a special election alongside a primary only adds work hours.
Smith said the effort to place two elections on a single ballot mean voters will only need one ballot and one polling place on Aug. 9.
However, county staff and commissioners will need to confirm the results of the special congressional election by Aug. 10, and the results must be considered separate from the statewide and local primary results, which is expected to require added staff time to process.
“Those we have already planned and prepared for,” Smith said. “It shouldn’t be any added cost.”
5. Integrity questions are being answered.
Smith said Olmsted County elections staff have received calls questioning the integrity of local elections, which she said is disheartening.
“It just hurts inside, because I know how much my team really cares,” she said.
The county has sought to address questions in a variety of ways as they are raised.
“We really are responding with transparency,” she said, pointing to meetings with voters and videos and other information posted online .
6. Voting is underway.
Early voting has started, and voters can request a ballot online at www.sos.state.mn.us .
Olmsted County voters can seek a ballot at the county’s new absentee voting center at 2122 Campus Drive SE, Suite 300.
The direct early voting options will be available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 3 through Aug. 5, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 6 and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 8 at the voting center and the city-county Government Center, 151 Fourth St. SE.