Starting with the 2020 presidential race, Minnesota will replace its caucus system with a primary election. The change will allow Minnesotans to vote all day instead of having to show up at a specific time on a precinct caucus night. March 3, 2020 is the date set for the first presidential primary, unless an agreement is reached by state leaders to change the date. The state’s political parties may still choose to hold caucuses, and the primary election for other federal, state and local office will continue to be held in August. Over the past few presidential election years, Minnesota’s caucus system has been criticized by some as a means for the parties to prevent some people from engaging in voting for lesser-known candidates or those not supported by party leadership. The caucus format also was viewed as less-accessible for some voters: instead of having a full day to vote, people were required to show up to their precinct caucus during a specific window of time if they wanted their vote counted. Long lines and limited space in many of the caucus locations frustrated many voters and were viewed as a way for party elites to “skew” election turnout.
During the March 1, 2016 “Super-Tuesday” Minnesota caucus, DFL activist Soren Sorenson criticized the lack of space for what was expected to be a large voter turnout for the caucus election. Citing the fact that five precinct caucuses were scheduled to convene in the Whittier Recreation Center Gym in Senate District 62 (South Minneapolis), a place that was packed in the 2008 caucuses, Sorenson said in an interview with City Pages, “The facility won’t be big enough and I’m afraid [Bernie Sanders’] supporters will be affected the most.” Ken Martin, DFL Chair, worked with SD 62 leadership to add space to the caucus location to ensure no voters were disenfranchised during the caucus election.