A guide to Tuesday’s Minnesota Caucus

Four states will hold caucuses, and eight states will hold primaries.

Kristina Busch

Tuesday marks the first “Super Tuesday” for Minnesota.
 
 
As part of the next step in the process to select eventual presidential nominees, Minnesota will join 12 other states, American Samoa and Democrats abroad on Super Tuesday
 
 
Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Communications Director Rachel Boyer said that more eyes than ever will be on Minnesota, thanks to a change that moved the state’s caucus date to March.
 
 
She said more people may participate in the caucus as well, considering the amount of attention the night receives. 
 
 
“Exercising your right to think, discuss and vote in our political system is the quintessential aspect of democracy,” said University of Minnesota marketing senior David Watts, in a video he recently helped produce to explain the caucus process.
 
 
What is a caucus?
 
 
Caucuses are meetings where party members gather to discuss party platforms and vote on candidates. 
 
 
The aim of a caucus is to discuss political candidates and vote to determine which candidate will receive the most delegates. Caucuses are also the first stage in the delegate selection process. 
 
 
Delegates — of which Minnesota has 38 Republican and 93 Democratic — are elected officials who will vote for the assigned political candidate at a party convention. 
 
 
To win the presidential endorsement, a Republican candidate must win 1,237 delegates, and a Democratic candidate must win 2,383. 
 
 
Caucuses will also elect delegates who will eventually endorse candidates for Congress and the state Legislature.
 
 
Caucus vs. primary 
 
 
On Tuesday, Minnesota will be among four states and American Samoa that will hold caucuses, while the others will hold primaries.
 
 
“The greatest difference between a primary and a caucus is in a caucus, the voters openly decide which candidates to support, Watts said. “Primaries use secret voters. So, essentially, voters cast their vote for who they want to support, and it ends there.”
 
 
Am I eligible?
 
 
To be eligible to vote, you must be at least 18 years old by the time of the November election. 
 
 
“Historically, we see dismal voter participation for the younger population,” said Watts, who created the video to encourage young voters to participate. “I want the University of Minnesota to have the highest caucus participation of any college.”
 
 
Where do I go?
 
 
In order to find where caucuses will be held around the state, Minnesotans can use the Caucus Finder website provided by the Minnesota Secretary of State.
 
 
To participate, you must live in the precinct you show up to caucus for. 
 
 
College students can vote in their hometown or at their university. Same-day registration will be available at each local caucus.  
 
 
When you get there
 
 
In Minnesota, you don’t need to be registered to a political party to participate, but you are required to generally agree with the party’s ideas. 
 
 
“When you arrive, you need to check in and register and make sure you are in agreement with party principles,” said Keith Downey, Chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota. “Someone then calls the meeting to order, which includes voting for delegates and making speeches.” 
 
 
Some of Minnesota’s minor parties will also hold caucuses on Tuesday.
 
 
How long does it take?
 
 
Most polling begins at 7 p.m. and ends about an hour later at each meeting.
 
 
Absentee votes aren’t allowed, but Minnesota employers are required to allow employees to miss work to caucus. The University is 
required not to schedule events after 6 p.m. on caucus night.