The presidential campaign is heating up as we enter into March where about 30 states will hold primaries and caucuses that will be critical in determining who will represent the Republican and Democratic parties in the November general election.
March 1 is your chance to weigh in on this critical question by participating in the Minnesota Caucus. I know you likely have questions about how caucuses work. Read on for answers to the things you’ll need to know to cast your vote.
Here are the top seven things to know about the caucuses in Minnesota:
1. When and where do I caucus?
The 2016 precinct caucuses will be on Tuesday, March 1 at 7:00 p.m. On this date, known as “Super Tuesday,” 11 other states will vote for their presidential preference.
For Republican and DFL caucus locations, use the online caucus finder here: http://caucusfinder.sos.state.mn.us/
Note that caucus locations will vary from where you usually vote in a general election.
If you’d prefer to caucus with a minor party, you can get more information on how to find your caucus location here.
2. What is a caucus?
Precinct caucuses are meetings run by Minnesota’s political parties. They are the first in a series of meetings where parties may endorse candidates, select delegates, and set goals and values (called party platforms).
In 2016, a major part of precinct caucuses will be to vote for the person you want your political party to support for President in the presidential preference ballot.
3. Who can attend?
To participate, you must be eligible to vote in the November general election (you do NOT need to be a registered voter) and live in the precinct. You also must generally agree with the principles of the political party hosting the caucus. You do NOT need to prove that you are a Republican or Democrat to participate in either party’s caucus.
4. What happens at a caucus?
It’s important to remember that voting for presidential candidates is only one part of the caucus. The majority of the caucus will be spent electing local precinct leaders and discussing and voting on issues important to the party platform. In total, the event should not last more than two hours.
If all you want to do is cast your vote and leave, you can absolutely do that. You are not required to stay for the entire caucus. However, if you are interested in getting more involved with the party, there will be people at your caucus location happy to share more information.
5. Will anyone know who I vote for?
No. The Minnesota Caucus is conducted by secret ballot.
6. Why should I care?
100 percent of votes not cast don’t count, so it’s important to show up and vote, particularly if you feel strongly about one presidential candidate or another. If you don’t caucus, you’re letting someone else decide who your party’s candidate is going to be. Minnesota recently moved its precinct caucus date to March 1, or “Super Tuesday” as it is widely known, which means that our early votes will help steer a course for the states whose primaries will follow.
7. Where can I find more information?
Visit the Minnesota Republican (http://mngop.com/precinct-caucuses/) or DFL (https://www.dfl.org/about-our-party/caucuses-conventions/) caucus websites for more information.