Four judges and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie are voting on the challenged ballots in the U.S. Senate race.
As Secretary of State, Ritchie is chairman of the state Canvassing Board. A DFLer, he was elected in 2006, defeating Republican incumbent Mary Kiffmeyer. In his first run for public office, Ritchie ran an aggressive campaign, accusing Kiffmeyer of acting in a partisan way as secretary of state, something she denied.
Ritchie's background is largely as a researcher and activist opposed to U.S. trade policies, globalization and genetic engineering, and in mobilizing and registering voters around similar causes. He formerly was president of a Minneapolis-based nonprofit, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, and was a trade analyst for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. In 2004, he led National Voice, a coalition of organizations that claimed credit for helping register more than 5 million voters.
Ritchie drew praise for a smooth statewide recount after a judicial primary in September. He drew some allegations of partisanship from the GOP side in the early stages of the Senate recount but those appear to have subsided
Magnuson was appointed as the state's 21st chief justice in June by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Before that, as head of the governor's judicial selection board for five years, Magnuson had a hand in shaping the court by recommending Pawlenty's previous three appointments.
Campaign finance records show that Magnuson has contributed a total of $2,625 to Pawlenty's first gubernatorial campaign and his second-term inaugural committee.
At the time of his appointment, Magnuson was an attorney and shareholder at Briggs and Morgan in Minneapolis, specializing in appellate law.
He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and received his law degree from William Mitchell College of Law.
Anderson was named to the high court by Pawlenty in October 2004 after serving on the state Court of Appeals since 1998, a post he was appointed to by former Gov. Arne Carlson.
He previously had been a partner in the Minneapolis and Hutchinson law firm of Arnold, Anderson & Dove and as city attorney in Hutchinson from 1987 to 1998.
Anderson made waves in 2006 when he spurned the state Republican Party's endorsement of him for that year's election. "I believe that partisan political endorsements are neither appropriate nor helpful in maintaining an impartial judiciary," he said at the time. His election that November was uncontested.
Anderson is a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College and received his law degree from the University of Minnesota.
First elected to the bench in 1986, and reelected three times, Gearin became chief judge earlier this year.
She had been an assistant county attorney for 11 years, gaining a reputation as a tough prosecutor. Before that, she had been a secondary school social studies teacher for four years.
Most recently, Gearin has presided over a pair of high-profile cases: the trial following the May 2005 killing of St. Paul police Sgt. Gerald Vick, and lawsuits brought by protesters who were organizing demonstrations during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.
She is a graduate of the College of St. Catherine and received her law degree from William Mitchell College of Law.
Before being appointed to the court in 2002 by Gov. Jesse Ventura, Cleary had served for five years as director of the state Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility.
He previously served as a public defender and had a private practice for nearly 20 years. Recently he has presided over some of the litigation spawned by the collapse last year of the Interstate 35W bridge.
Cleary is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, where he also earned his law degree.