Minnesota — not Iowa — the 1st state to start 2020 primary voting

Jan. 17 (UPI) — The first primary votes in the United States for the 2020 elections were cast Friday — not in Iowa or New Hampshire, but Minnesota, which hasn’t held such an event for nearly two decades.

Friday started the early voting period for the state’s Democratic presidential primary, due to Minnesota’s new early voting law.

Results, however, won’t be known until Super Tuesday on March 3.

This year’s is Minnesota’s first primary election since 1992 after years of staging local caucuses. State lawmakers voted in 2016 to move back to a primary voting system.

One potential benefactor of the new law is Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who could use the “home field advantage” to springboard her campaign in the critical early primary period. Rep. Ilhan Omar, also a Minnesota Democrat, is planning to stump in her home state for candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren may be the candidate who benefits the most, as she has support from about a quarter of Minnesota voters, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation-Cook Political Report poll. The survey shows Klobuchar with 15 percent.

The state is, however, facing a legal challenge over privacy concerns about switching to primaries. Since voters will have to identify party preference to cast a ballot — information party chairs will have access to — some worry it could become a de facto method of party registration.

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said the challenge could affect early voting, and he hopes to amend the law next month to limit how party leaders can use voter information.

Voters in California will also be able to start voting early on the same day of the Iowa caucuses, Feb. 3. North Dakota will begin receiving requests for early mail ballots on Saturday. New Hampshire will vote Feb. 11, Nevada on Feb. 22 and South Carolina Feb. 29.

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