An idea to hold state and presidential primaries on the same day in 2020 met some concerns from the secretary of state and some DFLers.
The House Government Operations and Elections Policy Committee held an informational hearing Wednesday on HF3979, sponsored by Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington). Garofalo said his intent is to bring the bill as an amendment to the omnibus elections bill if it’s taken up on the House Floor. The committee sent the omnibus bill to the House Floor in mid-March.
“I just get really concerned when a big change like this is put on a bill that we worked really hard to make bipartisan … this seems to be a lot longer discussion than just an amendment on the floor,” Rep. Cheryl Youakim (DFL-Hopkins) said.
Currently, the state primary is scheduled for Aug. 11, 2020, while the presidential primary is set for March 3, 2020, unless the chairs of the major parties in Minnesota agree to hold it on an alternate date.
Garofalo said “absent any changes,” in 2020, there will be caucuses in February and then two primaries, “which really doesn’t make any sense.”
The bill would mandate only one day of primaries in 2020, requiring the primaries for state, local and federal races be held on the same day as the presidential primary.
However, this bill presents some technical challenges, Secretary of State Steve Simon testified. He called it an “interesting idea,” but the concept requires “some more conversation to work out some of the barriers and administrative challenges.”
Simon said those challenges include how the Statewide Voter Registration System is programmed to the number of ballots there would be. There will already be two ballots for the presidential primary (one for Democrats and one for Republicans), but holding all the primaries on the same day could mean there’s a third ballot for the state and local races.
“We do appreciate the thought and effort to reduce the burdens and costs on counties and elections administrators, we just have to think through — and so do the counties and cities — on how that would actually work,” said Simon.
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