It was a hot issue a couple months ago. But with less than three weeks left in the 2016 session, Minnesota lawmakers have yet to pass a bill to establish a statewide presidential primary. Supporters of the proposed switch were hoping to strike quickly, while memories of packed March 1 precinct caucuses were still fresh. But a state Senate hearing Tuesday showed many questions remain about how a presidential primary would work. State Sen. Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope, told members of the Senate Finance Committee that a new primary would allow more voters to participate in the presidential nomination process, either in-person or by absentee ballot. But Rest noted that the two major parties insisted on a key requirement.
“If you want to participate, you would be asking for a DFL ballot or a Republican ballot, and that information would be public,” she said. “That has been a matter of some concern. But it is indeed a trade-off.”
Another provision in the bill would require presidential primary voters to sign a polling place roster, affirming that they are “in general agreement with the principles of the party” of the candidate they’re voting for.
Sen. Terri Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka, said she thinks it goes too far and Minnesota shouldn’t exclude independent voters from a presidential primary. “I want to preserve their ability to have just as strong a voice as anybody else in this state, without making a formal commitment to adhering to party principles,” said Bonoff. “I want them to have that freedom.”