The Republican caucuses may be the biggest news story in Minnesota on February 7, but DFL and Green Party caucuses are on for that night, too. You can locate your precinct on the Secretary of State’s website. If you’re Republican, you’ll be able to vote in a presidential straw poll. The straw poll is a non-binding popularity contest that everybody wants to win, even though it doesn’t actually get them any delegate votes.
Anyone who will be eligible to vote in the November 6, 2012 election can participate in a caucus in the precinct where they live. Four years ago, record numbers of Minnesotans turned out for precinct caucuses. Crystal Holzer, a first-timer in 2008, wrote about her experience and the excitement of that night. This year’s caucuses are not likely to be as crowded, or as exciting, as those of 2008, but they remain the building blocks of party governance and direction.
While the Republican presidential preference poll is non-binding, the DFL vote will determine the distribution of DFL delegates to the national convention. Of course, with an incumbent Democratic president, there’s not much suspense in the vote this year.
Resolutions are another another part of the caucus process. Anyone can bring a resolution to the caucus, and every resolution gets voted up or down. A yes vote means that the resolution become part of shaping the state (and eventually national) party platforms. According to the DFL website, “Some of our nation’s greatest ideas, such as the Peace Corps, have come from precinct caucuses right here in Minnesota.” The website also has a Platform Resolution Form (Word) (PDF). The Republican party also has complete instructions for the precinct caucus, including resolutions.
Election of delegates is a crucial part of the precinct caucus. Precinct delegates will go on to the next level, and eventually the state conventions will select delegates to the national conventions.
The Democratic and Republican parties have caucuses in every precinct. The Green Party has fewer caucus locations, listing just one in Northfield on the party’s web page at press time. The website advises, “be sure to check back if you don’t see a location in your area! You can also call the Green Party office at 651-288-2820, or visit the Secretary of State’s caucus finder at http://caucusfinder.sos.state.mn.us/.”