Other Opinion: Minnesotans will get first votes in presidential race


The first votes to be cast in the marathon that is the 2020 presidential race will likely be cast in Minnesota.

Wait, don't New Hampshire and Iowa have a lock on their roles as the traditional first-in-the-nation voters?

Yes, they do, but sly Minnesotans can beat them to the punch, thanks to the rules for absentee voting in the state.

Minnesota's presidential primary will be held March 3, Super Tuesday -- the same day as primary elections in 13 other states, including California, Texas, Massachusetts, Virginia and Colorado.

But according to the state's absentee ballot rules, Minnesotans have the right to cast their ballot 46 days prior to the election. That would be Jan. 17, which is ahead of the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses and the Feb. 11 New Hampshire primary.


So, as has been pointed out, the first Minnesotan to cast their absentee ballot (and you don't have to actually be absentee to do it) will be the first person anywhere to vote in the 2020 presidential campaign.

As of now, 15 candidates will appear on the state DFL ballot -- all of the candidates who have completed the necessary paper work. By contrast, the Minnesota Republican Party has restricted its ballot to only one candidate.

It's possible some of the candidates on the Democratic ballot will drop out by March 3. Voters who fill out their ballot early have a fallback position in that case: Minnesota law allows voters to recover their ballot up to a week before the election day and request a new one.

This will be the first year Minnesota has had a presidential primary since the 1990s. The state's results could easily get lost amid the larger states holding primaries on the same day. But the availability of absentee ballots in mid-January adds a fun and interesting twist to the process.

It might also draw more candidates looking for an early boost to campaign in the state. We have this advice for them: If you want to get off on the right foot in Minnesota, you're going to have to brave our winter weather. Sure, it will be tempting to campaign in California and Texas, but the early votes are right here in Minnesota.

Step aside Iowa and New Hampshire -- Minnesota will now cast the first votes in 2020.

What To Read Next
Get Local