About the Minnesota Historical Election Archive
The Minnesota Historical Election Archive is the most complete, searchable online database of Minnesota election results. The Archive compiles nearly 20,000 elections conducted since statehood across 17 federal and state offices: President, US Senate, US House, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Auditor, Treasurer, Railroad Commissioner, Railroad & Warehouse Commissioner, Public Service Commissioner, Supreme Court Chief Justice, Associate Supreme Court Justice, Supreme Court Clerk, state Senate, and state House.
Archive users can filter the election results by year, office, stage, political party, and district, and the results have also been coded to enable filtering by candidate gender, incumbency, and margin of victory.
The Minnesota Historical Election Archive is curated by Smart Politics author and founder Dr. Eric J. Ostermeier (Ph.D., University of Minnesota, Department of Political Science, 2006; J.D., The University of Michigan Law School, 1995).
A nationally recognized expert on campaigns, elections, and political history, Dr. Ostermeier pioneered data journalism with the launch of Smart Politics in 2006 by imagining a new method to address the political news of the day – blending meticulous, original research with creative collection and application of data, situated in a historical context. The launch of this Archive will enable researchers, reporters, and interested citizens to more easily access and learn about Minnesota’s electoral and political history.
Please direct any questions or comments to Dr. Ostermeier at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Minnesota Historical Election Archive is published by the University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing.
This project has been financed in part with funds provided by the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society.
The data presented in this Archive is culled from a variety of official governmental sources, primarily various editions of the Minnesota Legislative Manual, Reports of the State Canvassing Board from the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State, the Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Minnesota, and the Journal of the Senate of the State of Minnesota. Additional election results were retrieved from collections of Secretary of State files preserved by the Minnesota Historical Society.
For elections in which official returns are not available in official state governmental sources, contemporary media articles from newspapers across Minnesota have been used but only when official, certified returns were reported. Each election return indicates the source(s) used.
On occasion, official sources failed to list the correct candidate name, the candidate’s party affiliation, the vote tally, or even the correct office. Efforts were made to correct or fill in these gaps of information through secondary sources, such as sample ballots printed in newspapers.
Candidate biographical information was culled from contemporary media sources and the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library.
Historical trivia about the elections was collected from Dr. Eric Ostermeier’s research including reports published at this archive’s companion site, Smart Politics .
It is the goal of this Archive to compile every primary, special, and general election in Minnesota since statehood for the aforementioned 17 state and federal offices. With a few exceptions, the election results are 100 percent complete for 15 of the 17 offices under review.
For state legislative races, however, there remain some gaps. From 1857 through 1888, the state did not publish state legislative election returns in its legislative manual, nor were such returns captured in the record of the state House or state Senate as was the customary practice for major offices. Additionally, from 1902 through 1958, the state did not publish primary election returns for state Senate and House districts for which the county canvassed the results. [The state canvassed the results for multi-county districts and published them accordingly in the legislative manuals].
Below is a list of which and how many election results are currently housed in this Archive:
- President (1860-present): Complete
- U.S. Senate (1857-present): Complete
- U.S. House (1857-present): Complete except for the raw vote total in six unopposed primary elections in 1904, two unopposed primary elections in 1906, and two primary elections in 1912
- Governor (1857-present): Complete
- Lieutenant Governor (1857-1970): Complete
- Secretary of State (1857-present): Complete
- Auditor (1857-present): Complete
- Attorney General (1857-present): Complete
- Treasurer (1857-1998): Complete
- Railroad Commissioner (1875-1883): Complete
- Railroad and Warehouse Commissioner (1900-1966): Complete
- Public Service Commissioner (1968-1972): Complete
- Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (1857-present): Complete
- Associate Justice of the Supreme Court (1857-present): Complete except for the raw vote total in four unopposed general elections in 1984
- Clerk of the Supreme Court (1857-1954): Complete
- State Senate (1857-present): Missing select general results from 1857-1888, select primary election results from 1902-1958, and select special elections from 1858-1932
- State House (1857-present): Missing select general results from 1857-1888 and 1916, select primary election results from 1902-1958, and select special elections from 1858-1881
Over the decades, governmental sources have also been sporadic as to when write-in votes were published in the official canvass or other documents. Write-in votes are included in the election results when available.
The addition of new (and old) election returns to the Archive will be noted in site updates here.