How To: Caucus

By: Olivia Martin

The 2016 Iowa Caucus is just around the corner. The caucus is different from a primary, where people vote on candidates throughout the day. Instead, it is a meeting where party members discuss which candidate they would like to be selected as their party’s presidential nominee.

If you are a high school student who will be 18 by voting day on Nov. 8, 2016, and have registered to vote, then you should consider caucusing. Iowa is the first state in the entire nation to caucus. Here is a step-by-step process of how to caucus for your candidate. The Iowa Caucuses will be held on Monday, Feb. 1 also. Registration starts at 6 p.m. 

Before you start, you need to know what party you are caucusing for. There are many candidates for both the Democrats and the Republicans to choose from. Depending on what party you are going to caucus for, there are different steps.

Democrats:

Step 1 – Make sure you are registered as a Democrat. To participate in a Democratic caucus, you must be registered as a Democrat already or you can register at the precinct caucus as a Democrat. If you have an Iowa driver’s license, you can now register online at https://mymvd.iowadot.gov.

Step 2 – Find out where you will be caucusing. As a member of the Democratic party, you will meet in your specific precinct location. Your location depends on where you live. To find out where you will be meeting, visit this site: iowademocrats.org/2016-democratic-caucus-locations/

Step 3 – Figure out what candidate you are supporting. Once you are at your location, people will gather in separate groups according to which candidate they are supporting. Those who are undecided will be asked to join one of the groups already formed.

Step 4 – Expect to discuss your views with fellow party members and hear what they have to say too. Some people will give persuasive speeches for their preferred candidates. By the end of the night, your opinions could have changed. The whole process could take three hours or more, so be prepared.

Step 5 – Give your vote. This won’t happen in a voting booth — caucusing is much more casual than that. Voting might be done by writing your preferred candidate on a piece of paper, raising your hand or by a head count. Whichever Democratic candidate wins the most caucus votes in the state will also win the majority of the delegates from Iowa in the national convention this summer.

Republican

Step 1 – Make sure you are registered as a Republican. To participate in a Republican caucus, you must be registered as a Republican or you can register at the precinct caucus. If you have an Iowa driver’s license, you can now register online at https://mymvd.iowadot.gov.

Step 2 – Find out where you will be caucusing. As a member of the Republican party, you will meet in your specific precinct location. Your location depends on where you live. To find out where you will be meeting, visit this site: www.iowagop.org/2015/12/03/iowa-gop-precinct-locations/

Step 3 – Figure out what candidate you are supporting. Once you are at your location, people will gather in separate groups according to which candidate they are supporting. Those who are undecided will be asked to join one of the groups already formed.

Step 4 – Listen to or give a speech persuading people to vote for your preferred candidate. Some people will give persuasive speeches for their preferred candidates.Those in attendance are asked if anyone wishes to speak on behalf of a candidate.

Step 5 – Participate in the straw poll. At the individual Republican caucus meetings, a straw poll is taken by secret ballot to influence the delegate. One person = one vote. The straw poll is an informal type of voting where the local votes are counted to determine the overall opinion. The votes from the local precinct straw polls are sent to the state party headquarters to announce the winner of the straw poll popular vote, which will influence the selection of delegates.

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