Political Education

What are Caucuses?

What are caucuses? My husband asked me this when the strangeness of this year’s Iowa primary unfolded.

The United States Constitution gives the states the right to choose how it will run its elections. In the early 1900s Americans began to choose its party’s political candidates. Rather than old men in back rooms smoking cigars choosing them for us. States have two different models for choosing political candidates: the primary and the caucus. A primary is an election where each state chooses if it has an open or a closed primary.

Caucuses are different because instead of voting secretly for your candidate of choice registered voters go to their precincts and stand in groups for their candidate. You then try to convince your friends, family or neighbours to change their vote and go with your candidate.

There are 1,700 precincts in Iowa. Those in charge were using apps to organize the voting and to keep other precincts informed, but there were issues with the app.

Because of the, seemingly antiquated voting system, we will not know the results of the Iowa Caucus for a few days. Candidates will meet for another debate on February 7th. The first primary, in New Hampshire, will be on February 11th. We will see if the Democratic Party can begin to coalesce around one candidate by the end of February.

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