Minnesota archbishop asks priests to abstain from voting Tuesday

Minnesota archbishop asks priests to abstain from voting Tuesday

Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis is pictured in a Nov. 12, 2019, photo. Citing concerns about privacy and partisanship, Archbishop Hebda suggested in a Feb. 25, 2020, letter to his priests they abstain from voting in Minnesota's upcoming primary on Super Tuesday, March 3. (Credit: Bob Roller/CNS.)

The Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis is asking priests in Minnesota to forgo voting in the presidential primary election on Tuesday over concerns about the privacy of voter party preferences.

MINNEAPOLIS — The Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis is asking priests in Minnesota to forgo voting in the presidential primary election on Tuesday over concerns about the privacy of voter party preferences.

The Star Tribune reports Archbishop Bernard Hebda wrote about his concerns in a letter to priests this week ahead of Super Tuesday on March 3, the first presidential primary in Minnesota in nearly 30 years. Under the new system, voters must request the party ballot they want and that preference is recorded and sent to the chairs of all four majority political parties in the state.

There are no specifications in law about what the parties may do with that data.

Hebda wrote in his letter to clergy that the voting could be seen as partisan politics.

The Minnesota Catholic Conference (MCC) advised bishops that asking priests to abstain from voting was in their legal purview.

“The possibility that the data may become public should discourage clergy from participating,” MCC’s guidance states. “If the law were different and protected privacy, maybe the calculus would change. But it is the opinion of the MCC that discouraging primary voting during this cycle (though not in the general election) is the prudent thing to do.”

It’s not the first complaint from faith groups about the new system, which also requires voters to pledge “general agreement with the principles of the party” whose ballot they pick. Members of the Bahá’í Faith have told lawmakers that pledging support to a political party is a violation of their religion.

Crux staff contributed to this report.


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