Donald Trump or Marco Rubio? Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton?
Those are the questions caucus-goers from the nation’s major political parties will be asking themselves here Tuesday, March 1 as the Minnesota Caucuses are held statewide.
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.
Here are some questions and answers to help you through the process
Where do I caucus?
- For Democratic-Farmer-Labor and Republican party caucuses, use THIS online caucus finder.
- For minor party dates and location, choose from the following list:
If you have questions, concerns or a complaint about your precinct caucus, please contact the party holding the caucus meeting.
Unlike elections, which are run by local and state government election officials, precinct caucuses are run by political parties. Everything from site location to conducting preference ballot voting is the responsibility of the party.
Who can participate in a caucus?
To participate, you must be eligible to vote in the November general election and live in the precinct. You also must generally agree with the principles of the political party hosting the caucus.
What will happen at the caucus?
Each political party runs their caucus meetings a little differently. Check with your political party if you have specific questions. Generally, there are four main activities at a caucus:
- Choose volunteers who will organize political activities in the precinct. This could include maintaining contact lists, holding political meetings, and helping with campaign efforts.
- Vote for the person you want the party to support for President. This is called the presidential preference ballot. The results determine how many delegates each candidate gets at their party’s national endorsing convention.
- Discuss issues and ideas for the party to support. You can present an issue or idea for the party to support, called a resolution. If you convince other attendees to support your resolution, it will be taken to the next political convention. Eventually, your resolution could become part of the official party platform.
- Choose delegates who will endorse candidates at future conventions. At future conventions, party delegates will endorse state and federal candidates, including for President. Political parties have different ways of choosing delegates at the precinct level caucus—contact your party for more information.
I cannot go to the caucus. Can I vote absentee in the presidential preference ballot?
The Minnesota Republican Party and Minnesota DFL Party do not have an absentee voting option for the presidential preference ballot. You will need to be there in person to vote. However, the parties do provide a way for absentee voters to submit a resolution or seek to be a delegate. Check with your political party for more information.
Restriction on public meetings
So that all voters can attend the caucus, some groups cannot hold meetings after 6 p.m. on caucus night:
- No special taxing district governing body, school board, county board of commissioners, township board, or city council can hold a meeting after 6:00 p.m.
- No public elementary or secondary school may hold a school sponsored event after 6:00 p.m.
- No state agency, board, commission, department, or committee can conduct a public meeting after 6:00 p.m.
- The University of Minnesota may not schedule an event which will take place after 6:00 p.m unless permission to do so has been received from the Board of Regents.
- No Minnesota state college or university may schedule an event which will take place after 6:00 p.m. unless permission to do so has been received from the Board of Trustees of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.
For more details, see 202A.19.
Right to time off work to attend a caucus or political convention
You have the right to take time off work to be at a precinct caucus or political party convention (if you’re a delegate or alternate). You must give your employer 10 days’ written notice (See 202A.19, subd.2and 202A.135).
Major political parties must attempt to provide you an interpreter by request, if you are deaf, deafblind, or hard-of-hearing. If you are visually impaired, you also have the right to get written caucus materials ahead of time, by request (see 202A.155).