Minnesota’s presidential primary will cost $11.9 million in taxpayer funds to administer, Secretary of State Steve Simon told reporters Friday.
The Minnesota Legislature voted in 2016 to move from a caucus system back to an open primary, and did so under the impression that it would cost an estimated $3.6 million, Simon’s original estimate.
Now, after conducting an “87 county survey,” that figure has tripled to $11.9 million.
“There were aspects of this that we just could not predict in advance,” Simon told MPR News. “And we told legislators that a fuller and more faithful cost estimate would be based on an 87 county survey of what their costs were. That’s precisely what we’ve done now. But in the heat of a legislative session in 2016, that wasn’t possible.”
According to The Star Tribune, Simon said the greatest cost is the addition of two new political parties to the ballot, those being the Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party and the Legal Marijuana Now Party. Their addition will double the cost of printing and mailing ballots and programming election machines.
He also cited overtime pay, payment for temporary staff, and training election judges as reasons for the higher cost.
“What’s useful about this exercise is it reveals to the public for the first time the costs of running a statewide election,” Simon told The Star Tribune.
Under the 2016 legislation, the state is required to pay back local governments for election costs, Simon said.
“I do hope and expect that the Legislature will stand by its commitment in 2016 to reimburse the counties and the cities so that they are not left holding the bag for the costs of this extra election,” Simon told MPR News.
Minnesota’s presidential primary is scheduled for Super Tuesday on March 3, 2020.
The Republican parties in Arizona, Kansas, Nevada, and South Carolina said they plan to cancel their presidential primaries to save money.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “People Voting” by Wyofile. CC BY 2.0.