Early Primary Vote Likely

It appears Minnesotans will go to the polls for the 2010 primary election in August, a month earlier than usual.

A new federal law gives military and other overseas voters 45 days to deal with mail-in general election ballots, but a September primary election that leaves too little time to prepare for the general election.

Several Minnesota lawmakers plan to move a bill through the 2010 Legislature soon after it convenes on Feb. 4. Gov. Tim Pawlenty says he will sign the bill as long as controversial amendments are not tacked onto it.

“This is a common sense bill that we are confident will see support from both sides of the aisle,” said Sen. Katie Sieben, DFL-Cottage Grove. “Every Minnesotan has the right to vote and it is our job to ensure that every vote is counted. Moving the primary up is an easy way to accomplish this."

For years, lawmakers have debated whether there is enough time between a September primary and November general election, but efforts to move up the date have failed. Pawlenty vetoed one recent bill that would have moved up the primary, with the governor saying there were other unacceptable provisions in the measure.

More than 11,000 Minnesotans voted from overseas last year. About 4 percent of the ballots arrived too late to be counted.