Early voting for Minnesota’s presidential nomination primary started Jan. 17.
The primary itself will take place Tuesday, March 3.
There are a few new wrinkles voters should keep in mind.
The primary, for instance, is much different than the caucus system where straw polls and presidential preference balloting typically took place.
A Minnesota presidential primary has been held four times – 1916, 1952, 1956 and 1992. On May 22, 2016 Governor Dayton signed a bill that reinstates a presidential primary starting in 2020.
Another big change: Voters must disclose their party preference.
Here’s how it will work, according to Vicki Doehling, Douglas County elections administrator:
At the polls, voters will request their party’s ballot privately by choosing a political party on an electronic roster device. For early voting, the process will take place at the Douglas County Auditor/Treasurer’s Office or by mail.
Voters will need to complete an absentee ballot application either in person or online at mnvotes.org. The application will include an area for the voter to privately select their party preference.
After completing an absentee ballot application, the voter will then receive a ballot matching their party choice. County employees and election judges will not share any voters’ ballot preferences, Doehling said.
A record of which party’s ballot a voter has selected will be made available to the chair of each major political party following the election. This record will also be linked to a voter’s history for this election only.
Currently, there are four major political parties in Minnesota: Legal Marijuana Now; Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis; Republican; Democrat-Farmer-Labor. However, only the Republican party and the DFL party have chosen to participate in the presidential nomination primary in Minnesota.
Each party has its own ballot.
The Republican ballot contains one name – Donald J. Trump.
The DFL ballot includes 15 names – Michael Bennet, Amy Klobuchar, Joseph Biden, Deval Patrick, Michael R. Bloomberg, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Tom Steyer, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Julian Castro, Marianne Williamson, John K. Delaney, Andrew Yang, Tulsi Gabbard and an “uncommitted” option. Names of candidates who have dropped out of the race will still appear on the ballot.
Only presidential candidates are on the presidential primary ballot. Other offices with a primary will be on the primary ballot in August.
On March 3, the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at most locations. Voters will be required to request only one party’s ballot.
“There is important information we want voters to be aware of prior to this primary,” Doehling said. “We want everyone to know the facts and be assured that all Douglas County election officials are trained on this year’s new procedures.”
The presidential nomination primary results will determine Minnesota’s delegates for each party. Precinct caucuses will continue to be held to discuss and vote on other political party issues. This year the precinct caucuses will be Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. Caucus locations will be posted at mnvotes.org shortly before the caucus date.
New residents of Douglas County must register to vote 20 days prior to March 3. If a person has not pre-registered by February 11, they must bring an ID with their current name and address, or a photo ID with a document showing their current name and address.
That document can include phone, TV or internet bill, solid waste, sewer, electric, gas or water bill, banking or credit card statement, a current student fee statement or residential lease or rent agreement valid through election day.
Voters can pre-register online at mnvotes.org on or before February 11.