With the new March 3 presidential primary in Minnesota this year, precinct caucuses were a low-key event in Becker County Tuesday, Feb. 25. But plenty of people still showed up for caucuses in Detroit Lakes -- the Republicans at the Boys and Girls Club and DFL'ers at M State.

It was a far cry from the 2016 caucuses, when long lines formed for presidential preference voting at both Democratic and Republican caucuses. In past years, Minnesotans selected their preferred presidential nominee at the caucuses. Lawmakers decided in 2016 to make the switch to a primary after hearing complaints of overcrowding and long lines at caucuses.

This year, the focus at the caucuses was on party organizational work: deciding which issues should move ahead into the party platforms, which resolutions have a chance at the state conventions and who should become delegates at county and endorsement conventions.

From those conventions, delegates will be chosen for the Seventh Congressional District conventions and the state party conventions, and from those two conventions, delegates for national conventions are elected.

Minnesotans will vote for presidential candidates March 3 at regular polling places as part of the Super Tuesday presidential preference primary.

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That election is already underway in Minnesota; as of Friday, Feb. 21, more than 70,000 absentee ballots had been requested statewide, including 60,503 Democratic and 9,811 Republican ballots, according to a news release from Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon.

The absentee ballots that have been returned and accepted (36,726 total accepted ballots) include 30,932 Democratic and 5,787 Republican ballots.

Absentee ballots are available at the Becker County Courthouse.