Voters head to the polls Tuesday to decide city elections, school levies


Many cities and towns across Minnesota will be holding elections Tuesday to vote on city leaders, school board members and decide on dozens of school levies.

There are no statewide elections on the ballot, so voter turnout is expected to be low, reports note. Here's a look at some of the items on the ballot (for a look at your local ballot, click here):

School levies

On Tuesday, 41 districts will be asking voters to approve 51 capital levies to fund about $1.8 billion worth of projects that aim to address building improvements, security upgrades and supplies for classrooms, the Pioneer Press says.

In addition to capital levy requests, 53 districts are asking voters to approve 61 operating levies on Tuesday. The money will be used to pay salaries and benefits within the district, according to the Minnesota School Boards Association.

Earlier this year, voters approved 20 of the 33 capital requests on the ballot, Minnesota School Boards Association's website shows.

It's turning out to be a record year for levy requests despite state lawmakers adding roughly $1 billion in new school spending to the budgets, the Pioneer Press notes. Advocates for schools say districts are still playing catch-up after state funding for schools was limited during the recession.

The paper says funding requests are also coming because schools want to add new educational programs and tools in the classroom, as well as build or add-on to schools to accommodate the growing number of students.

Past levy requests show that the majority of schools will likely see their requests approved. In 2014, roughly 74 percent of requests were approved, while 86.4 percent got the OK in 2013, the Minnesota School Boards Association's website says.

Duluth decide on rank choice voting

Voters in Duluth will head to the polls to pick a new mayor, school board members and city councilors, but they'll also be voting on how to vote. (See a sample of the ballot here.)

Moving to ranked choice voting for municipal elections is among the ballot questions this year – a system many cities, including Minneapolis and St. Paul, have adopted in the past decade. Instead of holding a primary to narrow the field of candidates down to two, voters see several names on the November ballot and rank their top choices in order.

But there are pros and cons to the system. Supporters say ranked-choice voting saves the taxpayers money by eliminating a primary, while opponents believe the method can be confusing and doesn’t guarantee the candidate with the majority will win the election.

Special election to fill House District 46A seat

Voters living in parts of Hennepin County will be be voting in a special election to fill the House District 46A seat vacated by Rep. Ryan Winkler, who resigned earlier this year to move to Europe with his family.

Peggy Flanagan, the executive director of the Children’s Defense Fund of Minnesota, will run unopposed for Winkler’s seat – she was the only one to file for the seat during the filing period, MinnPost reported.

Another special election will be held Dec. 8 for those living in District 3A, which includes parts or all of Cook County, Koochiching County, Lake County and St. Louis County. They'll vote to fill the seat following Rep. David Dill’s death in August.

For more information on where to vote and to see results from Tuesday's election, click here.

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