What you need to know about Tuesday's presidential primary
For the first time since 1992, Minnesotans will go to the polls in a presidential primary to help choose candidates for the Nov. 3 general election.
If you’ve been dozing through the campaign so far, wake up! The primary is Tuesday, March 3, and voting will be at the regular polling places, said Becker County Auditor-Treasurer Mary Hendrickson.
“Everything is going to be the same,” as the regular state-run elections, she said.
The biggest difference is that in this primary, voters will have to declare their party to get a ballot, and can expect their party of preference to become public. The candidate they vote for will remain private, however.
The ballots, too, might be a little tricky for some people, since seven of the 15 Democratic candidates on the ballot have withdrawn from the race. Their names were not taken off the ballot because all were still active candidates in December when the ballots had to be printed.
Even the Republican ballot is a little tricky: Incumbent President Donald Trump is the only Republican name on the ballot, but Republicans can still vote for one of two “official” write-in candidates: Rocky De La Fuente or William “Bill” Weld. Other write-in names won’t be tallied, since no one else went through the process of becoming an official write-in candidate, Hendrickson said.
Fourteen of Becker County’s 48 precincts vote via mail-in ballots, but voters in those precincts can still cast their ballots in person at the courthouse.
“We have a lot of people who still like to come to a (polling place) on Election Day,” Hendrickson said. When that happens, election workers “spoil” the mail-in ballot and give those residents a new one so they can vote at the courthouse, she said.
The courthouse will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on primary election day for those voters, she said.
It will also be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 29, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, March 2, for “no-excuse” absentee voting, which has been going on since Jan. 17.
The presidential primary is expected to cost Becker County about $70,000, which county officials hope will be reimbursed by the state, Hendrickson said.
County election workers have to stay at work on Tuesday evening until the last ballot is counted and received by the state, she said. On the plus side, “it’s a good trial run for August,” when the regular primary election will be held, she said.
This year will be the first general election cycle in which Minnesotans will select their preferred presidential nominee via primary rather than a caucus, thanks to a bill signed by former-Gov. Mark Dayton in May 2016. Lawmakers decided to make the switch after hearing complaints of overcrowding and long lines at caucuses.
Those who are registered to vote need only go to their polling place between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 3. Those who are not registered to vote, but wish to do so may still register to vote at their polling place on primary election day. Not sure where that is? Visit pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us and type in your address.
Who is on the ballot?
On March 3, voters will select either a Democratic or Republican ballot to make their selection for presidential nominees.
On the Democratic ballot will be:
Michael R. Bloomberg
John K. Delaney*
Only Biden, Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Gabbard, Klobuchar, Sanders, Steyer and Warren are active candidates for the Democratic nomination. The others -- marked above with an asterisk -- have dropped out or suspended their campaigns.
Republicans will have just one name on their ballot: Donald J. Trump, the incumbent. Voters can also write-in a candidate.
When and where do I vote?
Those who are registered to vote need only go to their polling place between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 3. Those who are not registered to vote, but wish to do so may still register to vote at their polling place on primary election day.
You will vote at your regular polling place. Not sure where that is? Visit pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us and type in your address.
More information about voting and Minnesota elections can be found online at sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting and sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/election-day-voting/ .