Opinion editor's note: Editorials represent the opinions of the Star Tribune Editorial Board, which operates independently from the newsroom.


For only the second time this century, on Tuesday Minnesota voters will have a chance to participate in a presidential primary election. And it's not just any primary, but one that tests the mettle of a voter's sense of agency.

The wise heads of politics and news media have assured us that the candidates for 2024 are already decided. Yet we cling to the idea that the process matters, that campaigns matter, and that this election will be decided in November and not before. President Grover Cleveland observed in 1885 that "every voter, as surely as your chief magistrate, exercises a public trust." We would add that a trust is a trust, even when it seems unlikely to make a difference.

If voters cast their ballots in a way that registers their displeasure with the available choices, that could make a difference. If they give larger-than-expected shares of the vote to the underdogs, that could make a difference. If they support the established favorites of their respective parties, or if they cross party lines to sabotage an opposing candidate, or if they declare themselves uncommitted … any of those actions will send a signal that might make a difference.

If voters fail to turn out Tuesday, that will send a different message, and not a helpful one: It will suggest that voters see no point in registering their views, that they are ready to concede their irrelevance. That would only empower and encourage those whose interests lie in a depressed voter turnout. Much better to demonstrate that Minnesota's voters are aware, engaged and watching attentively.

As in every other sort of election, Minnesota makes voting in a primary easy. Most polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and anyone waiting in line when the polls close still gets to cast a vote. Employers must allow workers time to vote, and voters may bring a friend to help, or they may ask election judges for assistance.

Voters who are already registered need not bring an I.D. to the polling place, and if they have not yet registered they can do so on the spot. This being a presidential primary election, it will be necessary to identify with one of the major political parties — Republican, Democratic-Farmer-Labor or Legal Marijuana Now. The Minnesota Secretary of State's Office has sample ballots available for viewing, as well as a helpful online tool for finding one's polling place, at sos.state.mn.us/.

Unless you have been paying extraordinary attention, you will find a name or two on the sample ballots that are entirely unfamiliar. We were interested to find one whose photos, in a Google search, show him wearing what at first looks like a wizard's hat but on closer inspection turns out to be an inverted rubber boot on his head.

We won't mention his name here. Our purpose today is not to advance any candidate over another, but merely to advance the idea that today is Super Tuesday, the most significant day so far of the 2024 election cycle, and to remind you that Minnesota has a role to play. We urge you to vote.