The Potluck

Early voting in Minnesota spiked before Super Tuesday

By: - March 2, 2020 11:50 am

Early voting in Minnesota spiked in the week before the 2020 presidential primary, with nearly 30,000 voters casting ballots between Feb. 21 and Feb. 28, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State.

Almost as many ballots were cast that week as in the previous five weeks since Jan. 17, when absentee voting began in Minnesota. The Secretary of State’s office reported that it had accepted a total of 66,135 ballots as of Feb. 28.

On March 3 — known as Super Tuesday — residents in fourteen states, including Minnesota, will hold nominating contests. This year will be the first since 1992 that Minnesota has held a presidential primary instead of a caucus.

About 86% of the ballots requested and cast so far in Minnesota have been Democratic, unsurprising since 15 names will appear on the Democratic ballot while President Donald Trump is the only Republican.

Amy Klobuchar, Andrew Yang, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Deval Patrick, Elizabeth Warren, Joseph Biden, John Delaney, Julián Castro, Marianne Williamson, Michael Bennet, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Tom Steyer and Tulsi Gabbard will appear on the Democratic ballot here. Biden, Bloomberg, Gabbard, Klobuchar, Sanders and Warren are the only candidates still competing for the nomination as of March 2.

In addition to those who had submitted ballots to the Secretary of State by Feb. 28, another 28,000 voters had requested absentee ballots but not turned them in yet.

Ahead of March 3, it’s unclear whether the switch from the party-run caucus system to a state-run primary — enacted in 2016 following widespread confusion and long lines at many presidential caucuses — will affect voter turnout in Minnesota. Caucuses have long been criticized for creating barriers to voter participation.

A Star Tribune and MPR News poll conducted between Feb. 17 and Feb. 20 showed Sen. Amy Klobuchar with a lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders in Minnesota. Undecided voters made up the third-largest group.

Minnesota first started offering residents the option to vote from home with an absentee ballot in 2014, and county election offices also offer in-person early voting.

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Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a former data reporter for the Minnesota Reformer. Rilyn was born and raised in Minnesota and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.