Minnesota voters get out to vote on Tuesday for the first presidential primary in the state in 28 years, so naturally, there’s still some confusion about how this new system works. Here are five key things you need to know before you vote.
No, this is not Iowa.
If you’re worried Minnesota’s vote will be anything like the messy results and confusion that happened in Iowa, don’t be. Minnesota used to have a caucus system run by the state parties, similar to Iowa, but lawmakers switched to the primary system four years ago. That means the election is now run by the state and voting on Tuesday will feel a lot like casting your ballot in a regular election. If you’re registered to vote, you can look up your polling place online and head out to vote anytime between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.
The presidential primary won’t be exactly like a regular election, though.
That being said, this is still essentially all about the political parties, so there are some differences you’ll notice once you get to your polling place. For starters, there are separate ballots for Democrats and Republicans, and you’ll need to ask for one or the other or you can’t vote. And unlike a regular election, there could be candidates on your ballot who aren’t running anymore. On the DFL Party’s ballot there are 15 candidates listed, but seven have dropped out since the ballots were set back in December, including Andrew Yang, Marianne Williamson, Cory Booker, Julian Castro, John Delaney, Deval Patrick and Michael Bennet. And remember: This is just a presidential preference vote, so there are no candidates for other offices on your ballot.
Yes, there’s still a regular primary election in August.
This is separate from Minnesota’s normal primary election, which is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020. That’s when you can vote for your preferred party candidate in plenty of other federal and state races.
Your vote will eventually be translated into delegates.
In the presidential nomination battle, each state gets a certain number of delegates to weigh in on the party’s final choice at the national convention. Minnesota has 75 pledged delegates and six alternates up for grabs based on primary results, which are doled out proportionally to candidates based on their vote total if they manage to hit at least 15% support.
Legislators are debating bills to handle data privacy concerns, but there’s no deal yet.
As of now, if you vote in the primary, the chairs of all four major parties — the Democrats, Republicans and two pro-marijuana parties — will know your name and which ballot you requested. There are no restrictions on what they can do with that data. The DFL-led House recently passed a bill to limit the data to designated individuals in national parties, and Senate Republicans have proposed adding penalties for wrongfully distributing the information, but no deal is likely before you head out to vote Tuesday.