Minnesota voters will head to the polls a month earlier to vote in the state’s primary elections, after Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Wednesday signed SF 2251, a bill moving the primary election date to the second Tuesday in August, into law.
The bill, from Sen. Terri Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka, and Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-St. Louis Park, brings Minnesota into compliance with federal elections laws that require that overseas and military voters have adequate time to fill out and return absentee ballots for the general elections in November.
Local elections officials often couldn’t guarantee that took place under previous state law, which set primary elections for the middle of September. They couldn’t print up the general election ballots until the results of the primary elections were known, and then often sent out those ballots to overseas and military voters knowing there was little if any chance they would be returned on time.
The new law means this year’s primary election will take place on August 10 instead of September 14.
Absentee voters will now have 45 days to send in their ballots instead of 30 days, and special elections will now have to be scheduled to allow for a 45-day absentee voting window as well.