State board certifies Joe Biden as winner in Minnesota

Two people sit in the middle of a room full of voting booths.
Election judge Andrew Goodell, left, and Sarah Snyder talk as they wait to assist the next voter inside the Weisman Art Museum Minneapolis, Minn., on Nov. 3.
Evan Frost | MPR News file

Updated: 4:00 p.m.

Minnesota’s state canvassing board unanimously certified the state's election results Tuesday, an ordinarily routine task that drew closer attention due to President Donald Trump's efforts to delay it in key states.

Joe Biden defeated Trump in Minnesota by just over 233,000 votes, or about 7 percentage points, the board certified in a 5-0 vote with no debate. Biden therefore officially got the state's 10 electoral votes.

Minnesota's board is made up of Secretary of State Steve Simon; Minnesota Supreme Court Justices Margaret Chutich and Gordon Moore; and Hennepin County District Judges Regina Chu and Christian Sande.

Simon is a Democrat. Chutich, Moore and Sande were all appointed by Democratic governors; Chu was appointed by independent former Gov. Jesse Ventura.

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The action came despite a last-minute lawsuit filed Tuesday morning that attempted to block the certification. A group of Republican lawmakers, candidates and voters filed an election contest that claimed irregularities.

Shortly before the meeting, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued an order that required those behind the lawsuit to file additional court papers that proved they alerted the defendants of the action and to explain why it didn’t come too late.

But the four justices involved in the case — the two on the canvassing board and a third who ran for a new court term recused themselves — didn’t stop certification.

The 2020 election saw almost 3.3 million votes in Minnesota, more than 1.9 million of which came via absentee or early in-person voting.

Aside from the presidential contest, the most-watched races resulted in Sen. Tina Smith’s re-election, eight U.S. House seats were decided four apiece for DFLers and Republicans and control over the Legislature’s two chambers divided between the parties.

There will be three possible legislative recounts, but none will switch the state Capitol power structure where Republicans will lead the Senate and DFLers will run the House.

Minnesota had its highest voter turnout in more than a half century.

Secretary of State Steve Simon boasted about Minnesota’s voter participation during the canvassing board meeting. Minnesota fell just shy of 80 percent turnout of eligible voters, coming in at 79.96 percent.

“That is safely number one in the country for this year in terms of turnout,” Simon said. “It is also incidentally the highest turnout in Minnesota since 1956. And that all came during a once-in-a-century pandemic. So all of those achievements should make Minnesotans proud.”

In one respect, this year tops even the 1956 benchmark because back then people had to be at least 21 years old to vote.

MPR News political correspondent Brian Bakst contributed to this report.

Correction (Nov. 24, 2020): An earlier version of this story mischaracterized the Minnesota Supreme Court ruling. The story has been updated.