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Who’s on Your Ballot? A Comprehensive List of Offices in Minnesota to Vote For

Roles & responsibilities of federal, state, and local candidates

10/21/2020 10:00:35 AM

ASL version

If you are DeafBlind or prefer to watch the video in a slow-paced, high contrast format, watch the DeafBlind friendly ASL version instead.

English version

Election Day is coming up, and you will soon vote by ballot, either by mail-in or in person. Your ballot will have a list of candidates for different positions that you will vote for. Those candidates will be filling positions at the federal, state, and local levels.

The list is divided into the following categories:

  • Federal Candidates
  • State Candidates
  • Local Candidates

We will discuss the roles and responsibilities for each of those candidates. 

Federal Candidates

Let’s start with the Federal Candidates. They include the President of the United States along with the Vice President, the US Senate, and the US House of Representatives.

President - The President is the chief executive of the country, possessing many powers including signing bills into law, vetoing legislation, appointing federal judges and executive department heads, issuing executive orders, and conducting foreign policy. The President and Vice President are elected together.

Vice President – The Vice President ranks first in the presidential line of succession. The Vice President is also an officer in the legislative branch, as president of the Senate. In this capacity, the Vice President is empowered to preside over Senate deliberations but may not vote except to cast a tie-breaking vote.

US Senate - The US Senate is one of two chambers of the federal legislature. Senators are responsible for writing and passing legislation, approving presidential appointments, and ratifying treaties with foreign countries. Each state has two US Senators.

US House of Representatives - The US House of Representatives is one of two chambers of the federal legislature. Representatives write and pass legislation, offer amendments, and serve on committees. Each state has a number of US Representatives based on the population of their states as determined by the Census.

State Candidates

Now we have the State Candidates. They include the Minnesota State Senate, the Minnesota House of Representatives, the Minnesota Governor, the Minnesota Lieutenant Governor, the Minnesota Secretary of State, the Minnesota State Auditor, and the Minnesota Attorney General. Let’s go through them one by one and discuss their roles.

MN State Senate is one of two chambers of the state legislature – State senators have legislative authority and responsibilities include passing bills on public policy matters, setting levels for state spending, raising and lowering taxes, and voting to uphold or override gubernatorial vetoes.

MN House of Representatives is one of two chambers of the state legislature – Representatives have legislative authority and responsibilities, including passing bills on public policy matters, setting levels for state spending, raising and lowering taxes, and voting to uphold or override gubernatorial vetoes.

MN Governor - The Governor of Minnesota is the chief executive of the state of Minnesota, leading the state's executive branch. Similar to the US President, the Governor has the power to sign or veto bills passed by the Minnesota State Legislature. The Governor can also make line-item vetoes, where specific provisions in bills can be stripped out while allowing the overall bill to be signed into law. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor are elected together.

MN Lieutenant Governor - The Lieutenant Governor of the State of Minnesota is an elected constitutional officer, the second ranking officer of the executive branch and the first officer in line to succeed the Governor of Minnesota.

MN Secretary of State - The Secretary of State is the keeper of the Great Seal of the State of Minnesota and files and certifies the authenticity of a wide variety of official documents. The Secretary of State registers a variety of businesses, including corporations, assumed business names, banks, insurance companies, limited liability companies, limited liability partnerships, and limited partnerships. The Secretary of State is also the chief election official in Minnesota and is responsible for administration of the Minnesota election law. The Secretary of State administers the open appointments process and publishes the Minnesota Legislative Manual, a compendium of federal, state and county government information.

MN State Auditor - The State Auditor is charged with overseeing more than $20 billion spent annually by local governments in Minnesota. The State Auditor does this by performing audits of local government financial statements and by reviewing documents, data, reports and complaints reported to the Office. The financial information collected is analyzed and serves as the basis of statutory reports issued by the Office of the State Auditor.

MN Attorney General - The Attorney General of Minnesota is the chief legal officer for the State of Minnesota. The Office of the Attorney General represents and provides legal advice to over 100 state agencies, boards and commissions. The Office represents the state in state and federal court, as well as in administrative adjudication and rulemaking hearings. The Office handles felony criminal appeals, advises local prosecutors in the conduct of criminal trials and handles cases at the request of local prosecutors. In addition, the Office issues formal opinions interpreting statutes for the agencies and political subdivisions of the state. 

Local Candidates

Last but not least, we have the local Candidates. They include the County Commissioner, Soil and Water Commissioner, Minnesota State Supreme Court Justice, Minnesota Appeals Court Judge, and Minnesota District Court Judge. Here’s a brief recap of what each role entails.

County Commissioner - Member of the governing body of the county; responsible for enacting county ordinances.

Soil & Water Commissioner - Members of a board responsible for overseeing soil and watersheds within the district.

MN State Supreme Court Justice – A member of the State Supreme Court, which is the state court of final appeal.

MN Appeals Court Judge – A member of the Court of Appeals, which handles most of the appeals from lower courts, which allows the Minnesota Supreme Court to focus on constitutional and public policy cases. The Court of Appeals’ decisions are the final ruling in about 95% of appeals every year.

MN District Court Judge - District or Circuit Court Judges are responsible for adjudicating (make formal judgment on) cases in Civil or Criminal Courts at the trial level.

Election Day Reminders

That wraps up the list of Minnesota offices that will appear on your ballot and their responsibilities. We hope this information helps you make an informed decision on Election Day, which is on the first Tuesday of November. You can vote in person at your local precinct, or vote by absentee ballot -by mail or in person- and either mail it in, or drop it off in person by Election Day.


The definitions were sourced from BallotReady, Wikipedia, Ballotpedia, and Minnesota Courts. The Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing thanks:

The Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State for their feedback. 

James Paul Beldon III for ASL talent.

Patty McCutcheon for voiceover.

Keystone Interpreting Solutions for film production.


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