Minnesota to Switch from Caucus to Primary for 2020 Presidential


[Image via all-flags-world]

This year’s presidential nominating processes was typical in that it generated many calls for change to election laws – which usually fade along with memories of the process. But Minnesota has actually moved ahead with switching its presidential nominating process from a caucus to a primary beginning in 2020. The St. Paul Pioneer-Press’ Rachel Stassen-Berger has more:

Minnesota will move from a presidential caucus to a presidential primary for the 2020 election.

Gov. Mark Dayton signed the switch into law on Sunday.

Under the new system, voters would make their February partisan presidential picks in an election run by the state, rather than in caucuses run by parties.

Whether individual voters picked a Republican ballot or a Democratic one would become public, under the new law. But voters would not be bound in any way to their partisan picks in future elections nor would they have to register with any party in advance of the presidential primary.

The new primary system, which would get its first use in the 2020 election, would cost the state about $4 million a year.

The measure passed by overwhelming numbers in both the Republican-controlled House and the DFL-controlled Senate. The chairs of both the DFL and Republican parties supported the change and were intimately involved in crafting the legislation.

The vote would be an open primary, with voters choosing which party’s ballot to cast (which would become public record) but not being required to register with that party – though voters will have to sign an attestation that they are in “general agreement” with that party’s position. In addition, 17-year olds who will be 18 on general election day will *not* be allowed to vote in the primary. That’s a change from the caucus and is related to state laws regarding primaries generally (which are limited only to registered voters).

Minnesota station WCCO had reaction from the Secretary of State:

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, a primary supporter said, “Instead of having just one hour on one night to vote, Minnesotans will now have access to many of the benefits they’ve come to expect from our regular election process.”

I have noted before that all too often, frustrations that arise during nomination season – along with calls for change – often fade. Kudos to Minnesota for bucking that trend of “complain now/forget later/complain again in four years” that is commonplace in this space. In addition, the switch will allow the state and its well-regarded election system to manage the vote, perhaps avoiding some of the mistakes and confusion that have often plagued other caucuses nationwide.

People around the country are already very weary of the 2016 campaign – but Minnesota is ready to do it again (and hopefully better) in four years.

Stay tuned …

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