Super Tuesday is March 3 -- less than two weeks away. Will it be super for Minnesotans? Doubtful. Many may choose to opt out of the state’s first presidential primary in years to protect their privacy and, for some, their livelihood and integrity.
To get a ballot, voters must declare their party affiliation. They also must state that they support that particular party’s platform. Their names then go on lists that eventually will go to party chairs -- that is unless state lawmakers intervene.
The process as it stands now is just short of having to cast a public vote. Only state political leaders will know, you say?
Well, the election judges also will know; they hand you the ballot.
The voters ahead or behind you in line also might know; they easily could overhear your request or see your name on the list.
And there’s a genuine chance that those voter lists will be leaked and made public. Why? Because state law doesn’t regulate what the parties may and may not do with them once the election ends.
These are compelling reasons why some people who regularly vote have declared they won’t take part in this primary. Plenty of voters’ jobs or other circumstances demand political privacy. Consider clergy, journalists, teachers and more.
The Legislature can still ensure polling-place privacy in the primary and thus encourage more Minnesotans to participate. Several safeguards are being pitched in these final two weeks, including amending the presidential primary law so that party-affiliation data goes only to national party representatives, that the data be used only to guarantee the primary’s validity, and that the lists of names be kept private under Minnesota’s Data Practices Act.
As for some lawmakers’ contention that people have cast absentee ballots so the state can’t change the process now, we find that argument weak. The lists haven’t been placed in the parties’ hands, and the Senate and House can prevent that from happening if they act now to protect their constituents.
Voters should not have to choose between forfeiting privacy or sitting this one out.