by Dennis Dalman
Prospective voters have until March 5 to vote for which U.S. presidential candidate they would like to see chosen at nominating conventions this summer.
Absentee balloting began in Minnesota on Jan. 19 and will continue until March 5, which is the day that voters can vote at their local precincts as to which candidate they would like to see earn a party’s nomination.
The process is known officially as the Presidential Nomination Primary.
There are three political parties to choose from: Democratic, Republican and one called Legal Marijuana Now.
At this point, it seems a foregone conclusion that incumbent President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will be the two major candidates facing off in the Nov. 5 presidential election. But, well . . . who knows? A lot can change in nine months.
Voters in a PNP must select a ballot of just one of the three parties. They are not allowed to do cross-over voting – that is, voting for candidates from other than just the party ballot they choose. Therefore, voters must state their party preference in order to obtain a ballot.
Here are the candidates whose names are on the ballot. (Please note that some of these candidates have dropped out of the race, but their names will still be on the ballots.) Write-in votes are also allowed on all three ballots.
Democratic-Farmer Labor candidates are:
Joseph R. Biden Jr., Gabriel Cornejo, Eban Cambridge, Frankie Lozado, Jason Palmer, Dean Phillips, Armando “Mando” Perez-Serrato, Cenk Uygur, Marianne Williamson.
Republican candidates are:
Chris Christie, Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, Donald J. Trump.
The Legal Marijuana Now candidates are:
Edward Forchion, Krystal Gabel, Rudy Reyes, Dennis Schuller, Vermin Supreme.
Ways to vote
People must be 18 or older to be able to vote.
Those who wish to cast absentee ballots can do so at the Stearns County Service Center, located at 3301 CR 138 in Waite Park; or at the St. Cloud Lake George Municipal Complex, located at 1101 Seventh St. during its normal business hours.
To request an absentee ballot by mail, go to mnvotes.org or call the Stearns County election office at 320-656-3920. Voters can also track an absentee ballot, check registration or find their polling places for the March 5 Presidential Nomination Primary election at mnvotes.org.
Absentee voting will continue through March 4. The PNP will be Tuesday, March 5 with polling places open from 7 a.m.-8 p.m.
Anyone in a mail-ballot precinct who is not registered to vote can vote absentee with proper identification or in-person on Election Day at the Stearns County Service Center in Waite Park.
People can register to vote by going to mnvotes.sos.mn.gov/voterregistration/index. That is the website for the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office. People who live in Stearns County can also register to vote and/or request an absentee ballot on the county’s website at stearnscountymn.gov.
Those who live in Benton County (such as in east Sartell) can register to vote and/or request an absentee ballot on that county’s website at co.benton.mn.us/169/Elections.
Minnesota traditionally held presidential caucuses but switched to a Presidential Nomination Primary starting in 2020.
What about caucuses? Will they still take place?
Yes, local precinct caucuses (meetings) will take place Tuesday, Feb. 27, one week before the PNP.
To find out where your precinct’s caucus will meet, wait until Feb. 7 and then go to the Secretary of State’s “Caucus Finder,” located at https://www.sos.state.mn.us/.