House votes for earlier primary date

The Minnesota House passed legislation today that includes a provision that would shift the August primary to early June. The House approved the change by a 66-65 vote. The measure was amended to a broader elections bill that also passed.

The backers of the June primary say it will increase voter turnout.

“This is good government because it will increase participation in the primary,” said Rep. Kurt Daudt, R-Crown. “I think that our August primary is a time when we are on vacations and not really attuned to what’s going on with the primary elections.”

Several critics said a June primary will force incumbent state lawmakers to focus more on running for re-election instead of doing legislative work. Others complained that it would lengthen the campaign season.

“This will go to perpetual campaigning, ongoing elections and increased costs,” said Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul. “Those with means will run for office. Those who don’t have the means will struggle.”

The Senate would need to go along with the change. Gov. Dayton’s spokeswoman, Katharine Tinucci, said Dayton has long supported moving the primary to June. If the proposal is enacted, it would take effect in 2013.

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