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Minnesota opens early voting for presidential primaries

Early voters can retrieve their ballots and change their votes up to a week before that date for any reason, such as their favorite candidate dropping out.

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota voters on Friday became some of the first in the country to cast ballots in the presidential primaries as early voting began for the state's Super Tuesday contest.

Eligible Minnesota voters can now vote at county courthouses across the state, and early voting stations in some cities, and they can also request absentee ballots for the March 3 primary. But the votes won't be counted until primary night.

For the presidential primary only, voters will be asked to select one party's ballot. The absentee ballot application features a party preference check box that determines which ballot election workers provide the voter.

The voter's party choice will be recorded and that information will be shared with the four major parties -- DFL, Republican, Legalize Marijuana Now and Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis. That party preference won't be available to the general public or media.

Fifteen candidates are on the Democratic ballot, even though three already have quit the race. The GOP ballot lists only President Donald Trump, though write-in votes are allowed. It's Minnesota's first presidential primary since 1992 after years of using precinct caucuses to kick off the process of selecting national convention delegates.

Early voters can retrieve their ballots and change their votes up to a week before that date for any reason, such as their favorite candidate dropping out.

With temperatures hovering around zero degrees, Davis Senseman and a handful of friends camped out in a rented RV outside a Minneapolis polling station overnight in hopes of becoming among the first to vote.

Some states, including New Hampshire, started accepting absentee ballots earlier for voters who can't make it out on their states' actual primary day. But Minnesota allows anyone eligible to vote to do so early.

Senseman told Minnesota Public Radio they support Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

“I think she’s building a hugely broad coalition,” Senseman said. “This is an RV full of Warren supporters.”

Supporters of Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar's presidential campaign had early voting events across the state Friday. Friday night Klobuchar held an early voting kickoff rally at First Avenue nightclub in downtown Minneapolis with Gov. Tim Walz, Sen. Tina Smith and U.S. Rep. Angie Craig.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar held two get-out-the-vote rallies in Minneapolis for Sen. Bernie Sanders. Rep. Omar told reporters she feels confident that Sanders can carry Minnesota again, as he did in 2016.

The DFL party held a kickoff event in St. Paul, where representatives from a dozen candidates were allowed time at the microphone.

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