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March 28, 2020

2/19/2020 10:40:00 AM
2020: A new kind of election year

When you think of midwinter in Minnesota, you usually aren't thinking of election season.
Ice houses and saunas are getting plenty of use, not the polling places in town halls and schools. But that's different in 2020.
Minnesota is holding a new Presidential Primary this year. Forty-six days of early voting are already underway, leading up to the Super Tuesday primary on March 3.
New territory
This way of voting for a political party's nominee for president hasn't happened in Minnesota since the 1950s, so it's new territory for my office as well as for the townships, counties and cities who run the election. I want to mention a few things you should know about the primary and rest of the year to come.
Our office is typically the state's biggest cheerleader for voting -and, of course, we are still encouraging every eligible voter to cast a ballot, to keep Minnesota number one in voter turnout. But in this presidential primary, voting comes with a few extra details that voters need to know about.
Things to know
Voters should be aware that when voting in the presidential primary, they must choose between a Democratic and Republican ballot, and the record of which ballot they choose will be provided to all four major political parties in Minnesota.
That system of separate ballots was a requirement of the national parties for Minnesota's participation in the presidential primary process. The distribution of voter information to all four major parties was the product of a closed-door deal at the end of the last legislative session and was passed into law against my wishes.
In a perfect world, I believe that a voter's choice would be totally secret.
I've introduced a bill at the legislature to put some guardrails around that data, and to allow every voter to take their name off any list that goes to the political parties. I hope lawmakers will join me in this effort to maintain voter privacy.
Election security
The other area I'm focused on for 2020 is election security.
When Congress passed and President Trump signed the federal budget agreement into law this past December, they authorized a new round of funding to the state for election security. Minnesota's share of this money will be around $7.4 million.
My office intends to make a significant portion of this money available as grants to local governments throughout the state, to bolster the work they do that increases the security and accessibility of our elections.
The last time we received this type of funding from the federal government, in 2018, it was tied up for over a year in a wasteful, unnecessary and political delay at the state legislature. This year, I've called on lawmakers to release this funding immediately so my office - and local partners around the state - can get to work right away.
As always, I welcome anyone to contact my office with questions about what to expect in 2020 and how I am working to keep Minnesota's elections secure, reliable, and number one in the nation for voter turnout. The end of this year brings a presidential election, of course, and I encourage every eligible Minnesotan to exercise their rights and make their voice heard!
Steve Simon has served as the Minnesota Secretary of State since 2015.

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