It is apparently easier than one might suspect to figure out the Minneapolis ballot with 35 candidates for mayor, and a record number already have opted to tackle it through absentee voting.
As of Wednesday morning, 3,004 absentee ballots have been accepted by the city’s elections staff.
That includes 1,811 ballots from citizens who have gone to City Hall to vote, plus 789 ballots that have been mailed to the clerk. There also are votes from nursing homes and hospitals and from military personnel stationed outside Minnesota.
“I think I’ll have 4,000 ballots, give or take a few, by Tuesday [Election Day],” said Dani Connor-Smith of the Elections and Voter Registration staff. The previous record for absentee votes came in 2001, when there were 2,681.
But from a sample Wednesday, that doesn’t mean those voting early at City Hall have enjoyed sorting out the candidates or that they are huge fans of ranked-choice voting.
“You’re basically coloring in dots, except instead of one column, there are three columns,” said David Philpott, who lives in Ward 5 and had studied the sample ballot sent out by the elections clerk before voting. “I was totally familiarized with it, and I went right to it,” he said Wednesday after casting his vote.
The ballot did not confuse him, but he is not a fan of ranked-choice voting.
“I think it’s a sham,” Philpott said. “I think it dilutes the power of one person, one vote.”
“I thought the ballot was pretty straightforward and easy to use,” said Erik Hansen, a Ward 4 voter Wednesday who also is not a fan of ranked choice.
“We’ll see the results. I wasn’t a supporter of it in advance,” said Hansen, “I think it’s a very strange way to vote, but it is the law.”
Jane Freeman of Ward 3 also took time to study the sample ballot sent out by the elections clerk but still found the process “somewhat confusing.”
“I realized that I was going to have to find my way through 35 choices for mayor— which is ridiculous,” she said. “Either the filing fee needs to be higher or the DFL needs to figure out a way to endorse a few candidates. Something needs to be done.”
“Because the field has been so large, it’s been difficult to really form a sense of distinctions between the candidates,” Freeman said. “I follow politics, and I’d still have a hard time telling you what’s different between the top folks in the field.”
She wants to see how the election turns out before making up her mind about keeping ranked-choice voting.
“Its been very difficult for me to make up my mind, very difficult, and I’m still not entirely satisfied with my choices,” Freeman said. “I think Rybak is a really hard act to follow.”