Minnesota to Switch to Primary System for 2020

Minnesota is taking the leap from party-run caucuses to state-run primaries. On Sunday, May 23, Gov. Mark Dayton signed the change into law for the 2020 presidential election.

"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” Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said.

The caucuses have not been popular in Minnesota for the law few presidential elections, but the bill (SF2985/HF3549) came as a reaction to this year’s caucuses, during which thousands showed up to caucus, crowding into sites across the state.

“Despite the valiant efforts from thousands of volunteers, we also experienced some chaos,” Sen. Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope, said of the 2016 caucus crush.

There was overwhelming support from both parties with the bill passing quickly through the DFL-controlled Senate and the Republican-controlled House. Because primaries are run by the state, instead of the parties, the switch will cost the state $4 million a year beginning in 2020.

The bill allows for an open primary, with voter’s choosing which party’s ballot to case without having to register with the party. However, voters will have to sign a statement that they are in “general agreement” with that party’s positions.

Finally, because states laws regarding primaries generally limit eligibility to registered voters, 17 year-olds who will be 18 by the general election will not be allowed to vote in the February primaries.