Minnesota Secretary Of State - Primary election
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Primary election


A primary election determines which candidates will be on the ballot in the November general election. For information specific to the Presidential Nomination Primary, see the Presidential Primary webpage.

2020 Primary dates

What is a primary election?

A primary election determines which candidates will be on the ballot in the November general election.

For example, five candidates from one political party might run for governor. Only one candidate can be on the ballot in November. The winner of the August primary election will represent their party on the November election ballot.

There may be two kinds of offices on your primary ballot: partisan offices and nonpartisan offices.

Partisan offices

Partisan offices will list a political party next to a candidate’s name on the ballot. All state and federal offices—such as U.S. representative or Minnesota senator—are partisan offices.

Partisan candidates will be listed in multiple columns on the primary ballot. Each column will list the candidates for one major party.

You can only vote for candidates from one political party. If you vote for candidates from more than one political party, your votes will not count. You decide when you vote which one of the parties you will vote for—Minnesota does not have political party registration.

Nonpartisan offices

Nonpartisan offices will not list a political party next to a candidate’s name on the ballot. For example, county, city, township and school board offices are nonpartisan.

Nonpartisan offices will be listed on the back side of the primary ballot. You can vote for any candidate. The candidates who get the most votes will be on the November general election ballot.

Learn about how elections work in Minnesota