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Changes coming to Minnesota’s voting system

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DULUTH,MN-- Changes are coming to Minnesota when it comes to voting.

For the first time since 1992, a presidential primary will be held instead of caucuses.

Caucuses will still be held on February 25th for both DFL and Republican parties, but no vote will be made during them.

Phil Chapman, St. Louis County's Auditor says, "Now with the presidential primary nomination they'll vote at a polling location instead of going to their caucus."

This comes after issues resulted in people having the opportunity to share their voices during caucuses in the 2016 presidential election season.

With the law changes certain voter information will be available to major political parties.

Chapman says, "When people go to the polling location they have to state which party they're going to vote for. That information is then recorded, and then after the election, the Secretary of State is required to provide that information to the four major parties"

That information includes a voter's name, address, and which party they voted for.

Not which candidate.

UMD Political Science Professor Cindy Rugeley says, "It's not who you voted for, your ballot is still your secret ballot. It's essentially person A voted in the Democratic primary and person B voted in the Republican primary."

Political Experts say the information could be used for political research.

Rugeley adds, "Primarily by political parties or campaigns will access the data. And you may start receiving more mail than you used to, from political parties. Otherwise, I don't think you'll notice much of a difference."

County officials and political experts say they don't anticipate voter turnout to be impacted by this law change.

'We 've had a mixed reaction. I think probably the biggest change for people will be they'll have to state what party they're going to vote for. And in Minnesota typically you don't," says Chapman.

Rugeley adds a presidential primary is pretty common among other states.

She says, "It's not unusual for other states, in fact, it is pretty common, and we're kind of the outlier in the fact that we haven't had it before."

County officials say with the coming legislative sessions conversations for what the data can be used will likely take place.

We reached out to the League of Women's Voters of Duluth they hope to educate people about the change.

They add with any change in the system it will be a learning curve for everyone.

The Minnesota League of Women Voters made the statement below.

"LWVMN's main concern with the change is ensuring that voters are informed of how the new process works. Several of our local Leagues throughout the state are doing educational forums to help voters understand the new process. LWVMN has put together a handy webpage for reference. 
The other thing I'd note is that many voters have expressed concern over their party ballot preference being disclosed to the party chairs. Many voters think this information might become publicly disclosed somehow, and it's information that some voters don't wish shared with the public."

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Emma Quinn

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