Minnesota's election officer says everything is going smoothly in the state's primary election so far.
Tuesday is primary day in Minnesota, when fields of candidates will be narrowed for the Nov. 6 general election. The races on the ballot range from the congressional to the local level.
A couple hours after polls opened Tuesday morning, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said, "everything seems to be in order and all systems are go."
He has predicted turnout will reach only 15 percent. He says he doesn't expect a firmer handle until polls close at 8 p.m., but says primary turnout is always light.
Ritchie says one of the main issues his office has had to deal with has been people seeking help using the state's online polling place finder. He notes that redistricting this year means many voters are in new districts or their polling places have changed. He says other people have been calling to check whether their absentee ballots have arrived.
The primary includes both nonpartisan and partisan (party) races. You may vote in any party's primary, but you may not vote in more than one party's races. For example, if you vote in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, you can not vote in the Democratic or Independence party primaries for other offices. You would have to stay within the Republican column.
This primary is also the first since districts were redrawn this spring to reflect changes in population indicated by the 2010 Census.
Who can vote: With a few exceptions, anyone who is a U.S. citizen, is at least 18 years old, and has lived in Minnesota for 20 days immediately before the primary is eligible.
When to vote: Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. today. In some townships, polls will open at 10 a.m.
Where to vote: You can find your polling place at pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us
Are you registered? You can check your registration status at mnvotes.sos.state.mn.us/VoterStatus.aspx
Note: The pollfinder includes a sample ballot and a link to maps for your polling place. The registration lookup will take you there, too.
Election results: You'll be able to get the latest primary election results at www.startribune.com/2012primary.
Registering today: If you are not registered to vote at your current address, you may register at your polling place today. To do so, you'll need proof of your identity and residence, such as a valid Minnesota driver's license, state learner's permit or Minnesota identification card with your current name and address in the precinct. A number of other forms of proof of ID and residence are accepted and can be found at the secretary of state's website: www.mnvotes.org. Under one form, a person who is registered to vote in the same precinct where you live can vouch for your address with a signed oath.
For further information or questions: Secretary of state's website (www.mnvotes.org) or call 651-201-1339.
JIM KERN, ASSOCIATED PRESS
EXPECT ELBOW ROOM
The August primary is a change that began two years ago, when lawmakers moved the election earlier from its traditional post-Labor Day date to give military and overseas voters more time to vote. But in the midst of summer vacation season, that almost surely means little to no lines at most polling places. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie predicts turnout slightly less than 15 percent statewide, with gusts higher in the hotly contested U.S. House races in the 8th District and 1st District. Voter turnout two years ago was 15.5 percent, and that was with a close Democratic primary in the governor's race.
NAILBITER UP NORTH
The night's most closely watched race will be in northern Minnesota's 8th District, where Democrats badly want to reclaim the seat Jim Oberstar lost in 2010. They want it so badly, in fact, that three of them — Tarryl Clark, Rick Nolan and Jeff Anderson — contested the primary even after the party endorsed Nolan. Each is eager for a November date with GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack, who has to prove he's not a one-term wonder in a swath of the state that leans left. The seat is seen nationally as a top pick-up chance for Democrats.
THE LEGISLATURE WILL GET A MAKEOVER
Forty legislative districts have primaries, part of the regular upheaval when political districts are redrawn every 10 years and many lawmakers opt to retire rather than slog through a tougher re-election bid. No matter who wins this fall, almost a fourth of next year's Legislature will be newbies. A few of Tuesday's races could offer clues to the electorate's mood come November, too. Among the most closely watched primaries are three involving Republican incumbents — Rep. Steve Smith, Rep. Connie Doepke and Sen. Julianne Ortman — who face challenges from the right as they try to hold their seats or, in Doepke's case, move up to the Senate.
FOR SENATE DRAMA, WAIT FOR NOVEMBER
Sen. Amy Klobuchar has some primary challengers as she seeks a second term, but none that is expected to make the Democrat break much of a sweat. On the Republican side, state Rep. Kurt Bills has the party's backing against a couple of opponents and is expected to advance. If he does, he'll have to contend with Klobuchar's huge advantages in name recognition and money.
IN BROOKLYN PARK, RUN HARD AND REST LATER
One lucky Democratic candidate in Brooklyn Park is guaranteed a seat in the state Senate with a victory Tuesday. With no Republican filing for the office, Sen. Chris Eaton and Timothy Davis Sr. can start measuring for drapes if they win. Eaton won a special election in 2011 to finish the term of the late Sen. Linda Scheid, while Davis ran unsuccessfully for Brooklyn Park mayor two years ago.
- Associated Press