State’s parties caucus tonight

Caucuses select delegates to decide which candidates the party will nominate.

by Josh Verges

People attending tonight’s caucuses will help choose their parties’ presidential preferences and elect delegates to future party meetings.

Caucuses give citizens a chance to discuss the party platform, get to know potential local candidates and organize for the presidential campaign.

Caucuses are party meetings, whereas primary elections are simple votes. Most states use presidential primaries instead of caucuses to choose their party candidates.

The Democratic, Republican, Green and Independence Parties are the major parties in Minnesota.

The state Democratic-Farmer-Laborer Party has ordered 20,000 ballots for Tuesday night. The 2000 Democratic caucuses drew 11,900 people. Approximately 25,000 showed up to decide who ran against former President George H.W. Bush in 1992, according to The Associated Press.

The Independence Party will choose among the candidates from other parties with instant runoff voting. Voters rank candidates in order of preference and the candidate with a majority wins. If no one receives a majority, votes for noncontenders are given to the voter’s second choice.

The Green Party has not decided whether a candidate will run, so caucusing Greens will choose one of the seven applicants or no candidate.

Minnesota caucus-goers submit their presidential preference ballots at 7 p.m. to begin the meeting.

These votes will decide the nominee choice for 74 of the state’s 87 delegates, as well as 12 alternates. These delegates submit their choices in July at the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

The other 13 Minnesota votes will come from unpledged delegates, including Democratic National Committee members living in the state, Democratic U.S. representatives and senators and distinguished party leaders such as former Vice President Walter Mondale.

Anyone can participate in a party’s caucus as long as they are eligible to vote in the November election, are not active in an opposing party and intend to support that party’s nominee.

Party leaders recommend people arrive early if they want to submit a resolution to change the party platform.

Those who want to observe caucus events without participating are allowed to do so.

State law prohibits public schools from holding class after 6 p.m. on caucus night.