Caucuses are great, but when there’s an open seat race for president, Minnesota should also have a primary — that’s the opinion of the state’s highest ranking election official.
On Thursday Secretary of State Steve Simon told the House Government Operations and Elections Policy Committee that he supported a bill that would move Minnesota to a presidential primary system.
“The system just can’t handle all of that turnout,” Simon told The UpTake. The turnout for Minnesota’s Super Tuesday caucuses set records, but there were reports of long lines and some voters went home frustrated that they couldn’t cast a ballot. Unlike a primary where people can vote all day or vote absentee, caucuses require people to show up during a two hour window and personally cast their ballot.
Simon said he believes moving to a presidential primary system, while maintaining caucuses for all other elected offices, is worth pursuing if it means increased access and opportunities to vote for eligible Minnesotans.
With the current caucus system the parties pay the costs. With a primary the state would pay.
Simons says his office is still crunching the numbers but a presidential primary would cost about $5 million to $6 million to run statewide. Counties and local governments incur some of those costs, so Simon expects that the state would reimburse them for it.
Rep. Tim Sanders, a Republican, authored the bill. It has the support of Governor Mark Dayton, a Democrat, and Democratic Farmer Labor Party Chair Ken Martin.