This year, after decades as a caucus state, Minnesota will hold its first presidential primary since 1992, with early voting starting on Jan. 17.
The March 3 primary date places the state in the middle of Super Tuesday, when voters from 15 states and territories cast their ballots. Minnesota's primary is also the subject of a legal challenge before the state Supreme Court that the secretary of state has warned could disrupt the early voting process.
Here is what you need to know about Minnesota's primary:
Why is Minnesota holding a presidential nomination primary instead of a caucus this year?
State lawmakers approved legislation in 2016 that established a presidential primary, effective in 2020.
When is Minnesota's presidential primary?
Minnesota's primary is on March 3 as part of Super Tuesday, when the largest number of convention delegates will be at stake all in one day. In Minnesota, early voting starts Jan. 17.
Who will be on the ballot?
Only presidential candidates designated by the state's major political parties can participate. In Minnesota, that means the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, the Republican Party and, as of this election cycle, the Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party and Legal Marijuana Now Party. However, the Secretary of State's Office said the two pro-marijuana legalization parties will not participate in the primary. On Dec. 17, the DFL Party informed Secretary of State Steve Simon that 15 candidates would be on the ballot as options for presidential nomination: Amy Klobuchar, Andrew Yang, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Deval Patrick, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, John Delaney, Julian Castro, Marianne Williamson, Michael Bennet, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Tom Steyer and Tulsi Gabbard. Voters may also select the option "Uncommitted" on their ballot. Candidates who drop out before the primary now will still have their names on the ballot.
The Minnesota Republican Party on Oct. 25 only listed President Donald Trump on its ballot. After backlash, party officials said they will allow write-in candidates. But the decision to have a Trump-only GOP ballot has prompted a petition to the Minnesota Supreme Court on behalf of a voter and a Minnesota candidate for the Republican nomination. On Jan. 9, the Supreme Court will hear a petition challenging state election laws that allow party chairs to determine the makeup of taxpayer-funded primary ballots. The case was brought on behalf of Lake Elmo voter Jim Martin and candidate Roque "Rocky" De La Fuente, a businessman who has previously run unsuccessfully for public office.
What does the Supreme Court petition mean for the upcoming primary?
Simon argued that unless the ballot question is settled "within the first few days of January" the state may not have enough time to print and distribute ballots in all Minnesota counties for the start of early voting on Jan. 17. It now appears that the issue will not be resolved until some time after the Jan. 9 court hearing, leaving the ballot question in limbo.
Can voters select candidates for both parties?
No. Each participating major party will have a separate ballot and voters must choose which one to complete. Voters' political party choices will be recorded and disclosed to the chairs of each major political party, though not their candidate selections.
How much will the primary cost?
Simon's office has estimated the primary to cost $11.9 million to administer.
Has the state had a presidential primary before?
Yes. In 1916, 1952, 1956 and in 1992.
How does voting occur?
Registered voters can vote at their usual polling place on March 3 or by absentee ballot starting Jan. 17. Voters who wish to complete an absentee ballot by mail can apply to have a ballot mailed to them. Voters need a witness who is either a registered Minnesota voter or a notary to also sign the ballot before it is mailed back to the Secretary of State's Office.
Ballots can be obtained online or through local county election offices.
Will Minnesota still have caucuses this year?
Yes. Precinct caucuses and local and state nominating conventions will still take place to conduct other party business. Minnesota's caucuses will be held Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. at locations set by the parties.
Parties may endorse candidates, pick delegates and establish party platforms at the caucuses.
Do I need to register with a party?
Unlike 31 other states, Minnesota does not require voters to register with a political party affiliation. The new primary system does, however, require voters to pledge that they are "in general agreement with the principles of the party" in order to get that party's ballot and vote.
Will everyone know what party I choose if I vote?
The new system doesn't make party preference publicly available, but it does give that information to the chairs of all four political parties. There are no restrictions on how the parties can use that data, even if they say they won't release it publicly.
If a student will be 18 at the time of the election in November but will not be 18 yet in March, are they allowed to vote in the primary?
No. According to state statute, eligible voters must be 18 in order to cast a ballot in the March 3 primary.
Will there also be a primary in August 2020?
Yes. Minnesota will hold a primary on Tuesday, Aug. 11, to determine which candidates in contests besides the presidential race will appear on the November general election ballot. The August primary will include races for U.S. Senate, Congress and state Legislature.
Where do we vote on Jan. 17?
Minnesotans can vote early with an absentee ballot in person or by mail beginning Jan. 17. You can vote in person at your county election office or your city hall. Voters in Minneapolis may head to the city's Early Vote Center at 980 E. Hennepin Ave in Minneapolis. Minneapolis does not have voting at City Hall. A list of countywide early voting locations for Ramsey County is available here. More information about requesting a ballot by mail is available here.
Staff Writers Torey Van Oot and Briana Bierschbach contributed to this report.