MN to hold caucus on Super Tuesday

This election year is the first in which the state will participate in Super Tuesday.

Kevin Beckman

The Minnesota presidential election caucus may be getting more national attention, thanks to a decision last year by the Minnesota Legislature to move the caucus to March 1, also known as “Super Tuesday”.
 
Previous election-year caucuses  were typically held in February. In moving the caucus back, Minnesota joins Colorado — which also has a caucus system — along with Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia, which all hold primaries on that day.  
 
 
“We’re kind of excited to be on Super Tuesday,” said Vicki Wright, director of training and party affairs for the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. “We’ll get a little more notice, perhaps.” 
 
 
Last week, Iowa held its caucuses, where Hilary Clinton narrowly won for the Democrats and Ted Cruz for the Republicans. Iowa’s caucuses were the first primaries or caucuses for the 2016 election.
 
 
Caucuses are party meetings, by precinct, district or county, where registered party members gather to discuss party platforms and candidates. 
 
 
A caucus is the first stage in delegate selection process. Delegates are registered party members elected to vote for political candidates at party conventions. 
 
 
The caucus is the most important stage in the party convention process, said David Schultz, political science professor at Hamline University. 
 
 
There, he said, each party determines which candidates will actually get delegates sent to the next convention. 
 
 
“If you want an impact eventually in determining how Minnesota will award delegates for the national convention you have to go to the caucuses,” Schultz said.
 
 
Unlike a primary, where participants cast secret ballots, caucus participants publicly express their support for a particular candidate. 
 
 
Schultz said it’s important to show up to caucuses because, unlike primaries, there’s no way to cast an absentee vote. 
 
 
“If you don’t show up, you don’t get a voice,” he said. 
 
 
Minnesota is one of 14 states that rely on the caucus system, according to the Federal Election Commission.  
 
 
Caucus locations are expected to be posted online by Wednesday at the latest. They can be found on the websites of the Minnesota DFL, the Republican Party of Minnesota and the Minnesota Secretary of State. 
 
 
Minnesota employers are required to allow employees to be absent from work during the time the caucus is scheduled, as long as employees give at least 10 days’ notice. 
 
 
Additionally, the University of Minnesota is required not to schedule events after 6 p.m. on the night of the caucus, unless the Board of Regents grants permission. 
 
 
In Minnesota, somewhere between 1 and 2 percent of the population actually show up to caucus, Schultz said. 
 
 
“For every student who thinks, ‘My voice doesn’t matter whatsoever,’ with only 1 or 2 percent of the population showing up … they can have an enormous impact on delegate selection in the state of Minnesota,” he said.