In MN, picking presidential candidates at a caucus is so last year

Now that 2017 is here, Minnesota is a presidential primary state

So long, presidential caucuses.

Now that 2017 is here, Minnesota is no longer one of the states where parties make their presidential picks at a precinct caucus.

Gathering with your neighbors at a school, church, or public building on a Tuesday evening in the early spring has been a Minnesota tradition that's so old it's origins are a little murky.

And while parties are free to keep holding precinct caucus meetings, that's not how they'll endorse a presidential candidate anymore.

After long lines, parking problems, ballot shortages, and assorted other issues marred Minnesota's caucus night last March, lawmakers passed a new law setting up a presidential nomination primary.

The law took effect with the start of the year, but of course it won't really have any effect until the next presidential election rolls around in 2020.

Run by state and counties, not parties

The primary idea sailed through the Legislature and was signed by Gov. Dayton largely because it's seen as an easier way for people to cast their vote.

You've got all day to stop by your polling place for a quick in-and-out vote, instead of having to find your way to a meeting room at a certain time and spend the evening there. The new process is expected to boost the number of people who take part, which is already higher in Minnesota than in most other states.

That simpler process will come at a price, though. Caucuses were cheap because they were run by the parties using volunteers. Now the presidential primaries will be run by county election officials and their expenses will be paid by the state.

Everybody will still know your party

The biggest arguments about the switch to primaries had to do with whether the primary you voted in should be public information. And it will be.

So even though your neighbors won't see you walking in the door of the Republican or DFL caucus, they can look up your name in a public database and see if you voted in the primary – and if so, which party you registered with.

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