MOORHEAD — As of Wednesday night, Jan. 15, Clay County had not yet received ballots for the presidential primary early voting that starts Friday in Minnesota, Auditor-Treasurer Lori Johnson said.
She said the ballots could arrive Thursday or Friday. But those who wish to vote early can still come to her second-floor office in the Clay County Courthouse and fill out a request for an absentee ballot that would then be mailed to the voter. Residents can also apply for absentee ballots online at the Secretary of State's website.
When the ballots arrive, voters will be able to cast early votes at the courthouse. The presidential primary is set for Super Tuesday, March 3, in Minnesota.
Johnson said the reason the ballots haven't been dispersed is because of a lawsuit challenging the decision by the state Republican Party to put only President Donald Trump's name on the Republican ballot. She said the case, which allowed Trump to be the only name on the ballot, wasn't settled until Jan. 9. It was unknown whether other counties were experiencing a similar delay.
Minnesota's presidential primary will be held at the same polling sites around Clay County and the rest of the state as the general election. For other offices, there will still be a primary in August. North Dakota does not hold a presidential primary.
Delegates to the Republican and Democratic national conventions will be selected starting in precinct caucuses on Feb. 25 as that caucus process will continue with work also starting on a party platform. However, the delegates will be bound by the results of the presidential primary.
Minnesota residents who turn 18 by March 3 can vote in the presidential primary. Those who aren't registered can do so by Feb. 11 at the Clay County auditor's office, or they can register at polling places the day of the primary.
In Clay County, three towns and 18 townships vote only by mail ballots. The towns are Comstock, Georgetown and Hitterdal. Johnson said each registered voter will be mailed a ballot for the presidential primary in those locations.
A voter’s choice of either the Republican or DFL party ballot will be recorded and is private data.
However, under Minnesota law, a list of who voted in a presidential primary and the political party each voter selected will be provided to the chair of each major political party, although which candidate a voter selected on the ballot will be secret, wrote Secretary of State Steve Simon on his website.
While Trump is the only candidate on the Republican ballot, 14 candidates are listed for voters choosing the DFL ballot. There's also a category called "uncommitted."
Three of the candidates on the ballot have already dropped out, including U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, Julian Castro and Marianne Williamson. More may also drop out by March 3.