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Bill seeks to protect privacy of Minnesota primary voters

Associated Press

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — There’s time to protect the privacy of Minnesotans who vote in the Super Tuesday presidential primary on March 3, Democratic Secretary of State Steve Simon and a bipartisan group of lawmakers said Wednesday.

Under current law, the state must provide the names and party preference of primary voters to the four parties with major-party status in Minnesota — Democrats, Republicans and two pro-cannabis parties. A bill rolled out Wednesday by Democratic Sen. Ann Rest, of New Hope, and Democratic Rep. Ray Dehn, of Minneapolis, would tightly restrict that data.

The bill, which has some Republican support, would restrict the sharing of party preference data to the national party committees, and only for verification purposes. Otherwise the data would be private, with penalties for making it public. And voters could opt out of sharing their data.

Simon said at a news conference that there’s plenty of time to pass the bill because it doesn’t need to be enacted before the March 3 primary. But supporters said they want to move quickly in the upcoming session because they’re hearing from voters who are reluctant to participate if their party preferences will be shared.

Early voting began Jan. 14 in what’s Minnesota’s first presidential primary since 1992.