Minnesota voters began casting their votes early Friday in the state’s first presidential primary since 1992.
“The presidential nomination primary opens up the selection process and allows more Minnesotans to participate,” Secretary of State Steve Simon said in a statement as the polls opened. “Caucuses are limited to a few hours on one evening; this primary will give more people more ways to participate, and over a longer period of time.”
With the opening of the polls for early absentee voting, Minnesota was technically the first state in the nation to open voting to all voters.
“Will Minnesota be the first state in America to vote in a presidential nominating contest? Sort of,” Simon explained on Twitter. “New Hampshire starts absentee voting first, but only for those with a designated excuse. Minnesota has no-excuses absentee voting, so on 1/17 we’ll be the first state to open voting to all voters.”
Will MN be the first state in America to vote in a presidential nominating contest? Sort of. New Hampshire starts absentee voting first, but only for those w a designated excuse. MN has no-excuses absentee voting, so on 1/17 we’ll be the first state to open voting to all voters.
— Steve Simon (@MNSteveSimon) January 9, 2020
Simon, however, has some concerns about the process, since all of the state’s major political parties will be provided with data showing which party each voter chooses. The data won’t reveal a voter’s candidate selection, but there are currently no limitations on how a party can use the data, meaning it could be sold or posted online.
“For the new presidential primary, Minnesota voters should know they’ll have to pick one party’s ballot, and all four major political parties will know which ballot they chose—with no limits on what parties can do with that info,” Simon said. “I’m asking the Legislature to impose some guardrails.”
For the new presidential primary, MN voters should know they'll have to pick one party's ballot, and all 4 major political parties will know which ballot they chose – with no limits (!) on what parties can do with that info. I'm asking the legislature to impose some guardrails. https://t.co/9YowNvp3Es
— Steve Simon (@MNSteveSimon) January 16, 2020
Simon told Fox 9 that he thinks voters should be allowed to opt out of appearing on the lists provided to political parties. The votes won’t be counted until after the polls close on March 3, so the Legislature could impose some restrictions on the use of voter data before the lists are released.
A total of 15 candidates will appear on the Democratic primary ballot, including Amy Klobuchar, Andrew Yang, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Deval Patrick, Elizabeth Warren, Joseph Biden, John Delaney, Julián Castro, Marianne Williamson, Michael Bennet, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Tom Steyer, and Tulsi Gabbard.
President Donald Trump is the only candidate who will appear on the Republican Party primary ballots in the state after the Minnesota Supreme Court rejected a voter lawsuit last week challenging the single-candidate ballot.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05) voted for Sanders Friday and encouraged others to do the same.
— Keith Ellison (@keithellison) January 17, 2020
Omar spoke at a get-out-the-vote rally in support of Sanders at the University of Minnesota.
“Early voting in Minnesota starts today! And we are ready for Bernie Sanders,” Omar wrote on Twitter.
Early voting in Minnesota starts today!
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) January 17, 2020
MINNESOTA!!! Early voting starts today! First in the Nation!! Go vote got Bernie today or wait till he wins Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada… if you need more convincing! Let’s do this!! Thank you @IlhanMN for your courage! #Bernie2020 #Bernie #BernieBeatsTrump pic.twitter.com/zayRybnYwl
— Sam Spadino #TrumpEpstein 🌎 (@samspadino) January 17, 2020
Klobuchar hosted an early voting rally Friday night at First Avenue with Gov. Tim Walz and Sen. Tina Smith.
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