The Minnesota House voted overwhelmingly Thursday to move the state's primary election from its traditional September date to August 10. The vote was 126-5.
The move is to comply with a federal law to allow time for military voters overseas to mail in their absentee ballots for both primary and general elections.
Rep. Jeremy Kalin, DFL-North Branch, said an earlier primary will make it easier on the troops.
"A soldier from Texas serving next to a soldier from Minnesota, next to a soldier from Arizona, has a hard enough time coming out of the hills of Afghanistan and finding their ballot and casting their ballot, without having to figure out the different timelines between all of the states that serve in that platoon," said Kalin.
Critics of the measure complained that the move will increase the length of political campaigns.
Rep. Rick Hansen was one of the five members to vote against the bill. He said it would increase the cost of elections.
"It is a dramatic extension of the campaign season. I know that individuals begin campaigns at many times, but this would formally move the campaign season forward," said Hansen. "There's nothing in the bill that would accommodate for that lengthening by changing contribution limits or spending limits."
The House rejected an effort to require people to show a photo ID before they could vote.
The bill needs to be reconciled with a Senate version that is slightly different. One of the bill's main sponsors said he hopes the Legislature can take final action by March 15, so local elections officials have time to prepare for the earlier date.
Gov. Pawlenty has said he supports the August primary date.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)