What to know about Tuesday’s primary election in Minnesota

A voter and an election volunteer exchange papers.
Voters check in with election judges at Lyndale School during the Minnesota primary elections Tuesday.
Nicole Neri for MPR News

Minnesotans vote in a primary election on Tuesday to weigh in on which candidates they’d like to advance to November’s general election. Without a presidential race, lower turnout is expected, but there’s plenty on the ballot.

Voting within one party is required for the partisan races on the ballot, but voters don’t need to register publicly with a political party.

Here’s what to know about Tuesday’s primary election. More questions? Ask us here.

Am I still registered to vote?

Check the status of your voter registration through the Minnesota Secretary of State.

How do I get registered to vote?

The deadline for registering online or by mail has passed, but Minnesotans can register to vote in person at the polling place on Election Day, including Tuesday. Proof of residence is required, though there are options to prove residence beyond an ID with your current address. Here’s how to prove residence for same-day voting.

What if I work on Tuesday?

Minnesotans have the right to take time away from work to vote without losing pay or having to forfeit sick or vacation time. Workers can show employers a letter from the Secretary of State that explains this.

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Where do I vote?

Here’s how to find your polling place. This might have changed, especially with Minnesota’s recent redistricting where precinct boundaries were redrawn.

When do I vote?

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday. As long as you’re in line when polls close at 8, you must be allowed to vote.

What should I bring to the polling place?

If you’re currently registered to vote, you don’t need to bring identification. If you’ve changed address or haven’t voted in four years, you’ll need to update your registration with proof of residence.

What’s on the ballot?

That depends on where you live in Minnesota.

Tuesday’s ballots have separate sections for partisan and nonpartisan races. On the partisan ballot, voters choose a party and choose candidates only within that party. Nonpartisan races for county sheriffs, county attorneys and school board members are not separated by political parties.

The best way to find everything on your ballot is to plug in your address and see a sample ballot from the Minnesota Secretary of State website.

What we’re watching

Minnesota attorney general

All Minnesotans will vote on candidates for state attorney general — a position held by DFLer Keith Ellison since 2019. There’s no term limit on this position, and Ellison is running for reelection in 2022.

Republicans endorsed private sector attorney Jim Schultz for their attorney general candidate, but Schultz faces a primary challenge from former state legislator Doug Wardlow, who was the GOP nominee four years ago.

Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District

The race for Congress in southern Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District is a bit complicated due to the death of U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn in February.

A special election kicked off in May, where former Minnesota Rep. Brad Finstad narrowly won on the GOP side and first-time candidate Jeff Ettinger — previously the CEO of Hormel Foods — won for Democrats. Whoever wins will step in only for a few months until November’s general election.

To make matters more confusing, Tuesday is the primary election for the actual race, and state Rep. Jeremy Munson is hoping to beat out Finstad for the GOP pick. Munson came close to winning the special election primary back in May. Ettinger is considered the frontrunner for Democrats.

Here’s a deeper dive on this race from reporter Mark Zdechlik.

Minnesota’s 4th Congressional District

U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, a Democrat, has been in this east metro seat since 2000. Community organizer Amane Badhasso is running to unseat incumbent McCollum for the DFL pick in Tuesday’s primaries. Badhasso is an Oromo refugee from Ethiopia.

Tuesday’s winner will most likely also take the general election in this largely blue district that includes St. Paul, nearly all the rest of Ramsey County and some of Washington County.

Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District

For Minneapolis and parts of the city’s surrounding suburbs, former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels is running against incumbent U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar in Tuesday’s primary.

Polling suggests Omar is suited to win a third term and head to November’s general election. Samuels has been competitive with Omar in fundraising in recent months, but the Associated Press reports that Omar still has a money advantage and is expected to benefit from a strong grassroots operation.

Hennepin County attorney

After 24 years in office, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced in September that he wouldn’t seek reelection.

He’s been criticized for choosing not to file charges against Minneapolis cops who’ve killed residents, including Mark Hanneman who shot and killed Amir Locke in February and Dustin Schwarze and Mark Ringgenberg, both involved in the fatal shooting of Jamar Clark in 2015.

Seven candidates are up for the job — a record number. MPR News host Cathy Wurzer interviewed each candidate on Minnesota Now. Get to know each of them:

Follow MPR News on Instagram and Twitter for the most up-to-date election results on Tuesday night.

What questions do you have about 2022 elections in Minnesota?

MPR News reporter Mark Zdechlik contributed to this report.

Audio transcript

CATHY WURZER: And the primary is Tuesday of next week. A primary, as many of you know, is a contest that narrows the field of candidates who will advance to the November general election. There are a lot of races to watch. All this week, we've been talking with the candidates running for Hennepin County Attorney.

There are some interesting legislative primary races too and some congressional contests. That is where we will focus. Our reporter, Mark Zdechlik, has been watching the congressional primary races, and he joins me now for a preview. Hey, Mark.


CATHY WURZER: Let's start in Southern Minnesota. First district Congressman Jim Hagedorn died earlier this year. Next Tuesday, voters there will choose someone to replace him. Is that right?

MARK ZDECHLIK: Yeah, but Cathy, only for a few months. Hagedorn's February death triggered the special election in the first district. There was a primary for that election in May. Republican Brad Finstad narrowly won on the GOP side Democrat. And first-time candidate Jeff Ettinger won on the Democratic side, so the contest is between them.

Finstad has been trying to link Ettinger, who was once the CEO of Hormel Foods, to national Democrats, including President Biden. He's been talking a lot about inflation and what he says is reckless government spending.

For his part, Ettinger has been emphasizing the need for more cooperation in Washington. He's been underscoring his history of supporting Republicans and Democrats in past elections. He, Cathy, has also been talking about protecting the future of the nation's democracy following the January 6 insurrection and all the continuing denials about the 2020 election results.

CATHY WURZER: So help me out here. It's a little confusing. There's also a primary for the first district seat on Tuesday, right?

MARK ZDECHLIK: There is, and this is where it gets interesting on the Republican side. And it is confusing, Cathy. I know that people in southern Minnesota next week are likely going to be scratching their heads when they go to vote.

State representative Jeremy Munson, who came close to winning the special election primary, is hoping to knock out Finstad in the primary voting for the general election so he can be the Republican in November's general election. Munson has been criticizing Democrats but also Republicans for overspending taxpayer dollars. He says Finstad has a history of being part of that problem.

Finstad has been saying Munson is heavy on criticism but light on solutions. On the Democratic side for that November primary, Ettinger has no-- he has some opponents, but he's considered a front runner by far. So voters next week in the first district get two bites at the apple on one ballot.

CATHY WURZER: So really, someone could win the special election Tuesday and then not be on the ballot in November, which is a little tangled.

MARK ZDECHLIK: It is. And even as a reporter who's been doing this for a long time, it's taken me a while to get my hands around that. That's exactly right. Secretary of State Steve Simon, Cathy, told me yesterday afternoon that election workers in southern Minnesota have done some special training to field questions from confused voters about how it's all going to play out.

CATHY WURZER: Yeah, so earlier, I made that-- you probably heard me, Mark. I mentioned that Jacob Frey was throwing his support to Don Samuels in the fifth congressional district primary. That's in Minneapolis or it includes Minneapolis. That's where DFL Ilhan Omar is seeking a third term this year. Let's talk a little about the Omar-Samuels race.

MARK ZDECHLIK: Sure. Democrat Don Samuels says he should be on the November 5th ballot, not Representative Omar. Samuels is well-known in Minneapolis. He was on the city council there and a member of the school board and has been very critical of Omar's defund the police comments.

He also says Omar should be focusing more on bread and butter issues facing her Minneapolis area constituents rather than all the kind of high-profile national issues that she's been associated with.

CATHY WURZER: Ilhan Omar has survived a couple of other primaries before.

MARK ZDECHLIK: She has, and her polling suggests she's in a strong position to win again next week and go on to November, but we'll see. Samuels has mounted a very aggressive campaign and Representative Omar is certainly taking him seriously.

CATHY WURZER: Let's see here. East metro-- let's talk about a longtime member of congress also facing a primary challenge from another DFLer, so let's run that one down.

MARK ZDECHLIK: Yeah, Cathy, Democratic activist Amane Badhasso who is an Ethiopian, rather, refugee, says McCollum is entrenched in a Democratic Party that's failed to deliver on big changes many on that side have been calling for, from election reform to environmental and health care legislation.

McCollum says her seniority in congress is a big benefit to Minnesota. She also points that the Republican control of the US Senate as the reason so many Democratic initiatives in the house are stalling out. McCollum, just like representative Omar, has been working harder than ever to make her case to fourth district Democrats amid her challenge.

CATHY WURZER: Yeah, Betty McCollum has been around since, I think, what, 2001, so she's been there for quite some time. Let's talk about-- of course, there's a lot of local races too. Any idea of how many voters might turn out in the primary?

MARK ZDECHLIK: Well, we know, Cathy, that primary turnout is typically low even in Minnesota, and we lead the nation in general election turnout. That's especially the case in years like this one because there's no presidential contest on the ballot, and the presidential races fire up many more voters than some of the other races. So most eligible voters in Minnesota are not expected to weigh in on the various primary contests.

But it'll be interesting to see where there is interest, especially with those two elections in southern Minnesota's first district the special election and the primary election for the general election. People are going to be watching to see what side is more-- which side is more fired up.

And that's something that people will be watching for from all over the country, at least people who follow politics, in the hope that might give some indication of what the midterm elections in November might look like.

Also Cathy, another note on primary day next week for Minnesotans is an inner Republican Party battle for one of the state offices, which every eligible Minnesotan has an opportunity to vote on. Republicans endorse Jim Schultz for their attorney general candidate.

Schultz is facing a primary challenge from Doug Wardlow. And some people might remember that Wardlow, who is pretty well known in Republican politics, was the GOP nominee for attorney general four years ago. So Cathy, those are just some of the more high-profile races we're going to be watching next week.

CATHY WURZER: Oh, boy, it's going to be busy. Mark Zdechlik, thanks so much.

MARK ZDECHLIK: Absolutely. Have a great day.

CATHY WURZER: You too. Mark has been reporting on the primary races happening statewide in Minnesota. He'll, of course, be busy next Tuesday. To learn more about the races and the candidates, you can go to our website, mprnews.org.

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