Early voting starts, legal fight ends over Minneapolis police question

The Minneapolis police ballot proposal drew voters on both sides to the city's early voting center Friday, with some expressing relief after the Minnesota Supreme Court made a last-minute ruling allowing the question to count.

The Minneapolis Early Vote Center, 980 Hennepin Ave. E, will be open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. until Oct. 15. The center will have extended hours for the final two weeks of voting, including Saturday and Sunday hours. People can also register to vote at the center and drop off their mail-in ballots.

All voters and election staff are required to wear masks.

On Friday, Minneapolis elections officials will begin mailing ballots out to voters who have requested to vote early by mail. The city says 3,596 ballots have already been requested by Minneapolis voters—a record for a municipal election.

All mail ballots need to be received by Election Day, Nov. 2, for them to count. Mail ballots cannot be dropped off at polling places on Election Day. More information on voting by mail and how to request a ballot can be found here.  

Police ballot question will count, Supreme Court says

The Supreme Court ruling settled the legal fight just 14 hours before voting started.

The proposal asks voters whether they want to get rid of the Minneapolis Police Department. Future city councils and mayors would decide how many officers to employ in a newly formed public safety agency -- and what those officers can do.

Supporters of the proposal said the court battle over ballot language was not necessary, while others said it helped them make up their minds.

"The ballot question to me was not explained well enough, said Jodi, a south Minneapolis voter who cast a ballot over her lunch hour. "I’m not eliminating the police department without something that they’ve got set up, and they don’t have anything set up."

That Supreme Court decision overturned a lower court ruling earlier this week that rejected the ballot language approved by the city council.

"We will not back down. We will vote and we will win," Corina Smith, the campaign manager for Yes 4 Minneapolis, said at a Friday afternoon rally outside City Hall. Yes 4 Minneapolis is the political group that successfully petitioned to get the issue on the November ballot. 

What else is on the ballot? 

Voters will also elect a mayor of Minneapolis. Incumbent Jacob Frey is facing several challengers.

They will also choose members of the city council, the Board of Estimate and Taxation and the Park and Recreation Board.

Besides the Department of Public Safety ballot question, there are two other proposed amendments to the city charter that Minneapolis residents will get to vote on, one involving changing the city government to an executive mayor-legislative council structure and the other on enacting a rent control ordinance.