Construction on the Scott County government center project and a legislative decision are bringing new voting locations and ballots in the county.
A decision by the Legislature in 2016 to abandon the caucus system for the 2020 presidential election means that voters will need to choose a party to receive a ballot during the primary in March.
A voter’s party preference, though not their candidate choice will be shared with state parties.
Voters are only required to make a party declaration during the presidential primary in the coming weeks and won’t have to pick a party during the Aug. 11 primary for non-presidential offices.
This year residents of Prior Lake, Savage, Shakopee and Jordan will be able to submit their early and absentee votes at their city halls ahead of the primaries in March and August. The county has set up a voting center at the Scott County Highway Department off of County Trail East in Jordan for residents of Belle Plaine, Elko New Market, New Prague and the townships.
Scott County Elections Administrator Julie Hanson said the change should help with congestion at county offices as Scott County works through its three-year government center campus improvement project.
The change comes as more and more voters cast their ballots outside of the election days, Hanson said. Early and absentee voting have grown consistently over the years with about 13,000 people, or around 20% of registered voters, voting absentee in Scott County in 2016.
On Friday, Jan. 17, residents can begin casting their votes for their party’s primary candidates in the 2020 presidential election. Voting will run from January until March 2.
General voting for the party primaries will be held at the county’s regular precincts on March 3, the state’s first “Super Tuesday” in 28 years.
The city halls will serve as the early voting locations during voting periods throughout the rest of the year.
Hanson said the combination of legislative and location changes has added some work for election judges. Instead of the 47 batches of ballots the county normally receives for each of its precincts, it will receive 94.
Hanson said the county is also in need of election judges to work the precincts and early voting locations this year.
More information or to register for an absentee ballot is at the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office website, sos.state.mn.us.